In the hours before Game 3 of the World Series, Raul A. Mondesi was on the phone with his father, Raul Mondesi Sr., who was back home in the Dominican Republic.
In a career that stretched 13 years and and 1,525 games, the elder Mondesi had never once appeared in a World Series game. In a few hours, as the series shifted to National League rules, his son was poised to make his major-league debut in the World Series Friday night at Citi Field.
“I talked to him,” Raul A. Mondesi said Friday, after the Royals’ 9-3 loss in Game 3. “He said: ‘Be ready, you got a chance to play tonight.’ And I got it.”
Leading off the fifth inning as a pinch hitter, Mondesi, 20, became the first player in baseball history to make his major-league debut in a World Series game. Batting left-handed, the switch-hitting Mondesi struck out on four pitches against Mets righty Noah Syndergaard, taking a 97 mph sinker for a ball, fouling off a 96 mph fastball, taking another one for a strike and missing a 98 mph fastball.
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“I’ve been ready from the first inning,” Mondesi said, standing in the Royals clubhouse after the game. “They said I could hit for the pitcher, so I just got ready and I got my chance.”
The situation arose in the top of the fifth. Starter Yordano Ventura was set to lead off the inning, but he was pulled with one out in the bottom of the fourth, giving way to left-hander Danny Duffy, who retired two batters. Royals manager Ned Yost had hatched a plan to use his bullpen in one-inning stints, so he called on Mondesi to hit for Duffy.
“That is something big,” Mondesi said. “I just want to thank god and the Royals for giving me a chance to play in the World Series.”
Mondesi, who finished the season at Class AA Northwest Arkansas, hadn’t recorded an official at-bat since Sept. 7. But he’s spent the last month seeing live pitching at the Royals’ complex in Surprise, Ariz. He said he didn’t feel rusty.
“I was in Arizona, so I’m ready,” Mondesi said, before adding: “Tomorrow, I’ve got a new chance.”