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Dodgers beat Giants in Miguel Vargas’ major league debut

His first time on a big league diamond, Miguel Vargas came exactly as advertised.

It was patience on the plate as the Dodgers’ rookie threw a couple of two-strike pitches outside the zone in his first career on Wednesday.

There was power in the swing, the right-hander scorching a 106-mile rocket going the other way for an RBI ground rule double.

Then the highly touted 22-year-old prospect – one of several young talents the Dodgers protected during a quiet trading period the day before – also displayed his boastful confidence.

On the next pitch, he broke to third base entirely of his own accord and easily stole it with a head-first slide.

“I just felt incredible,” Vargas said through an interpreter when asked what prompted his bold attempt. “I didn’t feel like anyone could stop me.”

The San Francisco Giants certainly didn’t on Wednesday night when Vargas won two for four on his major league debut with two RBIs and helped the Dodgers to a 3-0 win by 35,400 at Oracle Park.

“I was really nervous when I was on the deck circle [before the first at-bat]’ Vargas said. “But when I stepped into the box, I didn’t feel anything.”

For months, Vargas has been knocking on the door of a big league call.

After evolving his swing and adding pull side power, he became one of the Dodgers’ best minor leagues in 2021.

As the consensus Top 100 nominee heading into this season, he had some scintillating performances as a major-league camp invitee this spring and made an impression on manager Dave Roberts and his staff.

He then erased any doubt about his readiness by tearing up Triple A with a .291 batting average, 15 home runs, 72 RBIs and a .880 percentage on base plus slugging, earning him a spot in last month’s Futures Game at Dodger Stadium .

“He’s just growing into the whole package,” said Will Rhymes, Director of Player Development.

Still, Vargas had to wait and bid his time behind other veterans on the team’s organization chart while his name was constantly mentioned in trade rumors ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.

Vargas said he ignored the speculation and focused on his game – making his defense a focus at third base and outfield, the latter a position he had never played prior to this season.

The Dodgers' Miguel Vargas breaks his bat on an infield single that scored Max Muncy.

The Dodgers’ Miguel Vargas breaks his bat on an infield single that Max Muncy scored in the fourth inning against the San Francisco Giants in San Francisco on Wednesday.

(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

“It’s a new position and it’s challenging at first,” Vargas said. “But now I’m quite comfortable there.”

He finally got a call this week to join the major league team, despite originally being told it would be a member of the Taxi team.

After a deadline-day roster reshuffle that also put Justin Turner on the injured list, the team changed course and put Vargas on the active roster instead.

He arrived in San Francisco mid-game on Tuesday night and greeted his new teammates with hugs in the dugout.

Then he shone in Wednesday’s Dodgers win, opening the scoring with his double in the second inning before taking on another RBI with an infield single in the fourth.

Vargas’ confidence, Roberts said, is “innate,” something the manager believes comes from Vargas’ father Lazaro, who was a legendary player in Cuba — where he and Vargas defected in 2015.

“He always looks at the field, understands the game,” said Roberts. “It’s an uncanny ability to slow things down.”

Julio Urías went over six scoreless innings in the win, bringing his ERA down to 2.57. Helper Evan Phillips escaped a base-laden jam on the seventh night, wiping out the Giants’ biggest threat for the second straight night.

And Craig Kimbrel narrowly avoided disaster in ninth, charging the bases with an out before making his 19th save.

After that, however, Vargas was the center of attention and was greeted with a beer shower upon his return to the clubhouse before answering questions with a big grin outside his locker.

“I’ve always dreamed of this moment and prepared for this moment,” Vargas said. “I was ready for this moment.”

It’s unclear how long Vargas will stay with the majors.

Turner and Chris Taylor (who hit two home runs during his Triple-A rehab operation Wednesday) could be back next week. And while Roberts said Vargas can play at left field and various spots in the infield, the squad crunch could keep the rookie from getting regular at-bats.

Despite this, Roberts didn’t rule out the possibility that Vargas could contribute at the track.

“He certainly has a lot of talent, so it’s certainly a good opportunity to bring him into that environment,” Roberts said. “Yes, it might be short. It could be longer. I think only time will tell.”

https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-08-03/miguel-vargas-dodgers-giants-recap Dodgers beat Giants in Miguel Vargas’ major league debut

Emma Bowman

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