As much as Adam Liberatore tried to speak about his major league debut matter-of-factly, the smile he occasionally cracked revealed how much this day meant to him.
Liberatore is 27. He is in his sixth season in professional baseball.
The hard-throwing left-hander’s lifelong dream became a reality Friday night when he was recalled from triple-A Oklahoma City and pitched a perfect ninth inning in the Dodgers’ 7-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
“That was pretty cool to be able to come in and be able to finish the game,” Liberatore said. “I think when I got to two strikes on that last guy, the crowd made some noise, so that was pretty cool.”
Liberatore ended the game by striking out Michael McKenry.
“It’s always nice to end the game on a punch-out, for sure,” he said. “The biggest crowd I’ve ever been in front of. I heard how loud they were. It was pretty cool.”
Liberatore said he received the news of his promotion the previous night from Oklahoma City Manager Damon Berryhill.
“He told me I was going up,” Liberatore said. “I said, ‘Good deal.’”
Liberatore was acquired in the off-season from the Tampa Bay Rays, the former team of Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers' president of baseball operations. Liberatore didn’t make the 25-man roster out of spring training, even though he didn’t give up a single run in the exhibition season.
Asked how difficult that was to accept, Liberatore smiled and said, “I just got here, man. You’re talking about me getting sent down?”
He is now one of three left-handers in the Dodgers bullpen, alongside J.P. Howell and Paco Rodriguez.
After the game Friday night, Liberatore received the game ball and scorecard.
“It’s probably something my family will enjoy more than me,” he said.
But, he added, “I’m loving it right now. It’s a great experience today, getting to come up here. My teammates have all been good. They’ve all come up to me and congratulated me. Everybody’s been great. I’m glad to be here.”