The date June 21 will mean something to Marc Krauss for the rest of his life.
That’s when the former Patrick Henry baseball standout fulfilled a longtime wish.
That’s when, a few months back, the talented outfielder played in his first Major League Baseball game on a sunny summer afternoon for the Houston Astros against the Chicago Cubs in venerable Wrigley Field.
“Getting called and told you’re going to move up to the major league, it was a dream come true,” said Krauss, who had spent all spring playing in the Astros’ minor league farm system.
Krauss, who recently turned 26, played in 52 games for Houston primarily as an outfielder for a team that finished with the worst record in the majors.
Krauss said his mind-set during his first season in the majors was to basically carry himself like a professional. He batted .209. He drove in 13 RBI while hitting four home runs and nine doubles.
“I was up there for three months as a whole, and it was a learning experience,” Krauss said. “I tried to soak it all up and learn from the the veterans.”
His callup from the Triple-A Oklahoma City RedHawks provided him with plenty of memorable moments in his first major-league season.
Krauss had little time to completely settle into his new role with the Astros, having spent the morning flying to Chicago from New Orleans, where the RedHawks had played the night before the call came. Landing in Chicago that morning, he drove straight to Wrigley Field for the game.
The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder didn’t have an easy time adjusting from Triple-A. In fact, he said he struck out during his first at-bat as an Astro against Matt Garza, who was on the mound for the Cubs.
Krauss admits his mind was racing 100 mph from the time he received the call to join the Astros the night before. His thoughts and emotions were all over the place by the time the first pitch of the game was thrown.
“You see everything you’ve done prior to that, and it was like a flashback of all the hard work and all the people who helped me along the way,” Krauss said.
Krauss, who was a collegiate standout at Ohio University, got that call in part because of his ability to swing the bat. He hit 10 home runs, 16 doubles, batted .281, and drove in 39 RBI with Oklahoma City this last summer.
Yet he went 0-for-6 at the plate with Houston before he finally recorded his first base hit in the majors. A few days after making his major league debut, Krauss tagged a pinch-hit double against St. Louis in front of the hometown Houston crowd.
Krauss made it to second base, but he didn’t reveal how he really felt about the extra-base hit.
“I wanted to jump up and down and smile, but I kind of played it off like I’d done that before,” he said.
One of the season’s best moments with the Astros came in a four-game homestand in Cleveland, he said, when plenty of his family members and friends came to the ballpark for at least one of those games. He went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles during one of the contests.
Another moment to savor, Krauss said, was in Toronto when he tagged a two-run home run and smacked a two-run double against the Blue Jays.
Such moments help Krauss remain optimistic about his future.
“Every step of the way it’s a new learning process,” he said. “I’d like to think I’ve just scratched the surface of my ability.”
Krauss, originally picked by Arizona in the second round of the 2009 draft, recognizes he has lots of room for improvement.
He said he will use the offseason to improve his batting average and his fielding as an outfielder and first baseman.
He hopes to be part of a youth movement in Houston that will help the Astros bounce back in 2014 after finishing the 2013 regular season with a 51-111 record, the worst in all of major league baseball.
“It’s hard to have a lot of success when you have lot of young guys like myself trying to break in. It was one of those years we’d all want to forget, but you’ll look back on it and realize it was an important part of the process.
“As a team, we took our lumps, but we’ll learn from it,” Krauss said. “As a competitor, you never want to lose. As you strap your cleats on, you want to go out and win.”
The Ohio native plans to spend the fall and winter months in northwest Ohio with his wife, Kelcey, who is expecting their first child in a few weeks. Spending the fall and winters months in the place where all of his baseball dreams began helps to keep Krauss grounded, he said.
After all Krauss, who was acquired by Houston from Arizona as part of a 2012 trade, knows he must keep working to keep maintain living out his dream.
“Without a doubt there will be a lot of good players in spring training,” he said. “I’m going to have my work cut out for me.”
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade