It wasn't the perfect moment.
But Riley Pint, seven years after he was drafted and two years after he retired, finally made his MLB debut Wednesday. He survived only 1/3 of one inning, walking three and letting in a run before he was removed from an 11-6 Rockies win over the Cincinnati Reds at Coors Field.
"It was pretty special," Pint said after. "Those are the type of things you dream about growing up. Just to be out there on the big league field, it was incredible."
Pint was drafted fourth overall in 2016 as a starting pitcher. Armed with a triple-digit fastball, Pint was immediately sent out to rookie ball and ranked as one of the Rockies' top prospects. A slew of injuries, including forearm stiffness and an oblique strain, sidetracked his career. When he returned, he battled command issues. He walked 59 batters in 93 innings in 2019.
By June 2021, Pint, in High-A at the time, in his mind had gone through enough. The pressure was overwhelming. The game wasn't fun anymore. At 24 years old, Pint retired.
He didn't pick up a baseball for months, but he always knew in the back of his mind that he would find his way back. In 2022, a month before spring training opened, Pint called Rockies' farm director Chris Forbes and said he wanted to give it another try. Things went pretty well for him; Pint spent that season in Double-A and Triple-A and was placed on the 40-man roster in the offseason. Most important, he was enjoying the game again.
He was assigned back to Triple-A to start the 2023 season, where he had a 7.41 ERA in 17 innings pitched.
On Saturday night, Pint got called into Isotopes' manager Pedro Lopez's office. Lopez gave him a hard time and Pint thought he was in trouble. Then Lopez pulled out his phone and showed Pint a text message with his flight to Denver on it. He was getting the call.
"I was definitely shaking in my boots," Pint said. "It ended up working out pretty well."
Pint was activated Sunday but sat in the bullpen for the next three days. Finally, with the Rockies up 11-5 Wednesday, Pint got the nod. He came out to pitch the ninth inning of the Rockies' series finale against the Reds. He was emotional as he ran out to the mound, everything hitting him at once.
His parents arrived in Denver Sunday but had to travel back to Kansas for work. His fiancé was still in town, and her cheers could be heard across the stadium as Pint warmed up. The Coors Field crowd pitched in too, acknowledging Pint in his debut.
Pint got a quick out to open the ninth, Jonathan India grounding out to third. Then Pint ran into trouble, walking Nick Senzel and Spencer Steer. Stuart Fairchild followed with a RBI double. Another walk to Kevin Newman ended Pint's day.
Pint was optioned to Triple-A after the game, the Rockies needing to make room for Karl Kauffmann to start Friday.
Still, Pint had done it. He had completed his comeback and finally pitched in a major league game.
"Everything hit me at once from the very beginning to the end," he said. "It was very cool to be out there for the first time."
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