MOOSIC — Thairo Estrada has been waiting a long time for Monday night — his Triple-A debut.
And for a split second he thought it might never come.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders middle infielder was a victim of a robbery during the offseason back home in Venezuela. Estrada even suffered a gunshot wound in his hip during the attack.
It was in the immediate aftermath that the 22-year-old thought his baseball career was in jeopardy. But once the doctor’s reassured him that his future in baseball was still intact it was time to get to work.
Despite the freak injury, Estrada wanted to get to Triple-A as soon as possible. And he did so before the first month of the season was complete, making his RailRiders (10-13) debut in Monday’s 6-2 series-opening loss to the Buffalo Bisons (7-8).
Batting second and playing short, Estrada went 0-for-5.
“I’m really, really, really happy that I’m finally making my Triple-A debut and finally getting this season underway,” Estrada said through an interpreter. “It’s been a long road. It’s been a nice rehab. My trainers and the whole Yankee organization have been behind me, working me day-in and day-out. I’m very thankful for it and I’m finally ready to make my debut and have my season get underway.”
If Estrada hadn’t suffered the gunshot wound this offseason, he most likely would have made his Triple-A debut weeks ago in the season opener.
But instead, he wasn’t ready at the end of spring training and had to stay in Tampa an extra couple weeks. Once he was ready to start playing in games again, Estrada had to play through a 10-game rehab stint with High-A Tampa.
Even then there were some bumps. Estrada suffered a groin injury which delayed his activation with the RailRiders by a full week.
But now he’s finally in Triple-A and ready to go.
“I’m excited because I can contribute and try to help this team win and hopefully make it back to the playoffs,” Estrada said. “Definitely, this was something that’s surreal. I thank God because I’m able to come back and give my 100 percent. I feel real healthy, I’m at 100 percent and I’m going to give my maximum effort, and I’m ready to rock and roll.”
Not only does Estrada bring a steady bat to Moosic, but he’ll provide a nice presence in the middle of the infield.
Estrada is scheduled to play mostly shortstop and second base. With Estrada often at short, Tyler Wade will start to move around the field. Wade played Tuesday at second, but will see most of his time in the outfield and at shortstop.
“He seems ready. He had a great (batting practice today),” RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell said. “We’re happy to have him because I know after having him all last year what kind of player he is. It might take him a little while to get accustom to the competition or whatever. Who knows? Maybe not. He can definitely play.
“He’s a hard-nosed player and he can play anywhere pretty much. … Puts the ball in play. Hits it all over the place. Great guy to have. Plays really good defense.”
But Estrada’s activation off of the seven-day disabled list did deliver a bit of a hit on the RailRiders’ lineup.
Abiatal Avelino was sent down to Double-A Trenton to clear room, despite leading the RailRiders in hits. The Yankees want Avelino playing shortstop every day and Double-A was the only option with both Wade and Estrada in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
“He has a lot of tools. He has potential,” Mitchell said. “Him coming up here and doing as well as he did, playing every day definitely opens eyes. Hopefully he runs with it and his career keeps on rolling — he gets enough time at shortstop and he becomes an everyday shortstop, possibly.”
RailRiders southpaw Josh Rogers took the loss on Monday, giving up five runs — two were earned — on seven hits and a pair of walks. He did strike out two.
Rogers didn’t get much help from his defense, with the rehabbing Brandon Drury committing three errors and catcher Kyle Higashioka committing another.
Both Tyler Wade and Cody Asche were 2-for-4. One of Wade’s hits was a double.
Frazier set to join SWB
Clint Frazier is set to join the RailRiders on Tuesday.
After suffering a concussion during spring training, the 23-year-old outfielder is finally ready to make the jump to Triple-A after playing four games with High-A Tampa. Frazier was 3-for-15 with a double, home run, three walks and a pair of stolen bases with the Tarpons.
“He’s a player, obviously. He has a lot of tools, but you never know what to expect when they first get here,” Mitchell said. “Obviously, he’ll help us out a lot.”
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle