CHICAGO — Sean Kazmar grounded into a double play — and sounded overjoyed.
“Definitely everything and then some,” he said. “What an amazing feeling.”
While Kazmar and the Braves lost to the Cubs 13-4, his pinch-hit appearance in the fifth inning marked the 36-year-old infielder’s first major-league game since Sept. 23, 2008, with the Padres — a span of 12 years, 6 months, 25 days.
“A win would have been nice,” he said. “But what a good feeling — just (Friday) night when Snit (Atlanta manager Brian Snitker) told me and waking up and then getting that opportunity early in the game was awesome. But yeah, man, amazing feeling, and hopefully stick around a little longer.”
Kazmar, who was at the Braves’ alternate training site in Lawrenceville, Ga., was in his hotel room Friday night watching the Braves’ game on television. He saw Ender Inciarte injure a hamstring and Ozzie Albies get hit on the right calf by a pitch.
“You never know in this game. And sure enough, obviously, I’m a testament to it,” Kazmar said
“That was probably one of the greatest moments I’ve had as a manager at all the level,” Snitker said. “You go from ’08 to 2021, in between, you’ve got to be kidding me, to have the perseverance and the dedication and the drive.”
Kazmar was at home living on unemployment insurance last year during the COVID-19-shortened season, when the minor leagues were called off.
“There could have been obvious times where I doubted that this opportunity would ever come,” he said. “I still felt like I had the ability to play at this level.’'
Kazmar appeared in 19 games in 2008 with San Diego, his only previous major-league action, and had since played in Triple A for the Padres, Mariners, Mets and Braves, plus Double A for the Mets — 1,106 minor-league games.
The gap between big-league appearances was the greatest since right-hander Ralph Winegarner played June 23, 1936, for the Indians and returned July 7, 1949, for the St. Louis Browns — 13 years, 14 days.
Kazmar took a curveball from Trevor Williams for a strike, fouled off two fastballs, then grounded a curveball to second for a 4-6-3 double play.
“Looking back at those 12 whatever years, 200 days, it kind of flew by in a sense,” he said. “You only get one shot at this career. It didn’t seem as long as it felt.”
His wife, Jen, made it to Wrigley for the game.
“I knew my wife would drop everything she has. She was actually at our boy’s — Sean III, his baseball game had just started. And luckily enough we had the in-laws in town,” Kazmar said. “Her and my mom were able to rush and get on a red-eye.”
Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras each homered twice for Chicago.
— By SARAH TROTTO
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