Very few players make their major league debuts with any assurance of a regular job, causing them to work hard to make a great first impression. Being a rookie in the major leagues is unique from other sports in that way.
Ask Shane Peterson, who fulfilled his lifelong dream of playing in the big leagues last week, only to get demoted back to Triple-A Sacramento two days later. He made two starts at first base, filling in for Brandon Moss, who was on the paternity leave list. Peterson had a hit in seven at-bats during Moss' absence and he drove-in his first run with a bases loaded walk in a win over the Houston Astros.
"Just being on the field that you see on TV, playing against guys you see on TV, just getting that opportunity in the big atmosphere," Peterson said. "Even though everything was the same. It's still baseball. They're obviously better. The game is a little faster."
The way Peterson's season has gone so far, driving a run via the walk is fitting. Coming into Sunday's game, his 19 walks gave him the second-most of any player at any level, only behind Cincinnati Reds' slugger Joey Votto (25).
Peterson made his major league debut a week later than he initially expected after he flew to Houston as a precaution during the season's first weekend. But when Moss' child didn't arrive that weekend, Peterson wasn't added to the roster and made his way back to Triple-A, where he continued his solid year at the plate. When Moss was put on paternity leave lats week, Peterson got the call, again.
The left-handed hitter has a gaudy .522 on-base clip in 14 games with the River Cats thanks to his growing patience at the plate. Peterson has always been known as a patient hitter, but his .460 mark from 2012 when he made the jump from Double-A to Triple-A elevated his status within the organization in a drastic way.
Now that Peterson has experienced the big leagues, he isn't planning any drastic changes to his approach.
"It makes me want to get up there more, getting the taste of it," he said. "I still have the same mindset as before I went up there. I'm going to come out here and make sure I'm feeling as good as I can so when I get an opportunity I can make the most of it."
After Peterson ended his great 2012 with a 1102 OPS in 39 games for Sacramento, he continued to stay hot in spring training with a .408/.463/.653 line in 26 games in big league camp, ensuring his viability as a potential major leaguer.
The A's have put an emphasis on versatility, which also bodes well for Peterson. He had made only one start at first base this season prior to getting the call for Oakland, but played the position without any issues. Peterson had plenty of experience at first from his collegiate and early minor-league days. In his first major league game, Peterson made the defensive play of the game with a diving catch at first with two-outs and the bases-loaded.
"I think it made it a little easier for me. Fist base is something I've played a little more often in my life," Peterson said. "I'm comfortable in the outfield, but I'm just as comfortable at first base."
Currently, Peterson appears to be the A's the primary left-handed depth option for either outfield or first base - with Michael Taylor taking that designation from the right side – making it very likely we haven't seen the last of Peterson in Oakland this season.