Florida’s Jason Vargas didn’t take long to become a major league pitcher.
Vargas makes his first career start as the Marlins open a three-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Bank One Ballpark.
Vargas, the Marlins’ second-round pick in the 2004 draft, was promoted from Double-A Carolina on Thursday after spending just half a season in the minors. He started the season at Class A Greensboro, before moving on to Class A Jupiter and Carolina.
“I didn’t really know what to expect when I got here,” he said. “I’ve never been to big league camp or in a big league clubhouse. I never really had anything to do with any big leaguers at all.
“I walked in the clubhouse, and they welcomed me with open arms. They came over, shook my hand. It was more than I can ask for. I didn’t expect anybody to talk to me.”
Vargas was brought up from Carolina after starter Al Leiter was designated for assignment. He made his major league debut on Thursday, allowing one hit in one scoreless inning of relief in the Marlins’ 13-7 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies without receiving a decision.
“Just about everybody who supported me throughout my entire career,” Vargas said when asked who would be in attendance for his first start. “They are ecstatic. They are just trying to grasp it as much as I am. They’re trying to believe this is actually happening.
The Marlins are hoping that Vargas can help them shake their recent slump. They lost 8-4 to the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday for their sixth loss in seven games. Pinch-hitter Jeff Conine doubled in two runs in the ninth and Juan Pierre had two hits for Florida, while ace Dontrelle Willis was pounded for a season high-tying eight runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings.
The Diamondbacks beat San Diego 6-1 on Sunday, earning a split of their four game series with the Padres. Chad Tracy had his first two-homer game for Arizona, which moved within 5 1/2 games of first-place San Diego in the NL West.
“There is a big difference between winning and losing that game,” Tracy said. “A game right now is huge considering how the West looks. We cannot let the Padres get too far ahead.”