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'I feel incredible': Jackson Chourio had his fingerprints all over a Brewers win in his MLB debut

NEW YORK – It was impossible to miss.

First name atop the lineup card on opening day at Citi Field, Milwaukee Brewers against the New York Mets: Jackson Chourio, right field.

After all the preparation, all the hype, all the focus, he officially took the next – and biggest – step in his career by making his major-league debut Friday.

And what a debut it was.

Chourio went 1 for 3 with a single, run-scoring groundout, a walk and stolen base. Then in the field he made every play he had an opportunity on, including making a nice catch going back to the wall to record the final out of the seventh with a runner on and the winds swirling.

"I'm super happy for him and his family," manager Pat Murphy said. "Think about the weight that he carries around with him. That's not an easy thing. He's a human being, you know what I mean? It's not easy to have the pressure and the responsibility that he carries."

Added Chourio afterward: "I feel incredible. Just, very happy."

Murphy told reporters Wednesday that Chourio would be in the lineup, so that part wasn't a surprise. Perhaps seeing him in the leadoff spot against wily left-hander José Quintana was, although Murphy left it to the youngster to figure it out for himself once he reported to the ballpark.

"Jackson's got a job to do today," Murphy said pregame. "This isn't a gift. I didn't want to explain or congratulate him or anything like that.

"It's time to work."

Murphy then divulged after the game that he had a little help in making his decision to hit Chourio first.

"I talked to (Christian Yelich) and I said, 'Hey, Yeli, am I crazy here?' I'm thinking about batting him leadoff," Murphy said. "He said, 'Do it. What are we waiting on? The kid'll be fine.' And he was right."

Chourio had a hit, an RBI, a walk and a stolen base and was solid in the outfield

Playing in front of his parents and brother, Chourio was, indeed, fine, as he opened his day by drawing a four-pitch walk from veteran left-hander José Quintana and then quickly stole second base. He advanced to third on a Yelich single to left but was ultimately stranded there.

"I really didn't feel any nerves, any pressure there," Chourio said of his initial plate appearance. " I kind of felt like I needed to get a hit, but I was able to get on base for the team."

Added Yelich: "He had a great at-bat. Took some close pitches and walked and stole a bag. Great debut for him, for sure."

Chourio then got his first major-league putout by retiring Francisco Lindor on a flyout in the bottom of the first.

After a Yelich homer tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth, Chourio collected his first hit by singling to right with one out in the fifth. It was a nice piece of hitting, as he went with the pitch in a full count and hit a sharp grounder past Pete Alonso at first base.

"Honestly, when I got to first my feet kind of started moving a little bit and I didn't think about it much," Chourio said. "Just, very happy, very proud. Always want to give the glory to God."

That knock sent Andruw Monasterio from first to third, and one batter later Monasterio scored to give Milwaukee its first lead.

Chourio is the youngest player to record a hit and an RBI in the same game since Juan Soto (19 years, 339 days) in 2018.

Then in the seventh, with runners on the corners and nobody out, Chourio hit a grounder to second that resulted in a forceout there but plated Milwaukee's third and final run.

With a runner on and two outs in the seventh Chourio made his presence felt one final time, as he went back on a drive to right by Starling Marte and made a leaping grab near the wall to haul in a tougher-than-usual catch.

"I actually had a little bit of a feeling that he was going to go that way," Chourio said. "So, I was able to anticipate it a little bit and make a good play on the ball. Each ball was kind of affected differently by the wind; some of them were getting pushed a little further, some were going a different way.

"The wind probably made that one a little tougher."

Brewers right fielder Jackson Chourio calls for time after stealing second base behind Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil in the first inning Friday.
Brewers right fielder Jackson Chourio calls for time after stealing second base behind Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil in the first inning Friday.

Jackson Chourio is the second-youngest Brewer to play on opening day

At 20 years and 18 days old, Chourio trails only Robin Yount as the youngest player in franchise history to appear in an opening day game. Yount was 18 years and 201 days old when he made his major-league debut on opening day in 1974 and 19 years and 204 days old when he was in the opening day lineup again in 1975.

Chourio is also the sixth-youngest player to appear in a game with the Brewers.

The list begins with Yount. Following him are Ed Romero (19 years 219 days in his debut on July 16, 1977 vs. Baltimore); Darrell Porter 19-219, Sept. 2, 1971 vs. Kansas City); Gary Sheffield (19-290, Sept. 3, 1988 at Detroit); and Kevin Kobel (19-341, Sept. 8, 1973 at New York Yankees).

"I've heard it a lot of times," Chourio said when asked what he knew of Yount, the best player in franchise history and a Baseball Hall of Famer. "Still working on the knowledge of him."

Chourio also became the eighth player in franchise history to make his major-league debut in the opening day starting lineup.

He joined Pedro García (second base, 1973), Gorman Thomas (right field, 1973), Yount (shortstop, 1974), Paul Molitor (shortstop, 1978), Joe Kmak (catcher, 1993), J.J. Hardy (shortstop, 2005) and Brice Turang (second base, 2023).

Pulling the lens back even further, Chourio is the fifth-youngest player to start on opening day in the majors in the divisional era (1969-present).

The list goes Yount, Ken Griffey Jr. in 1989 (19-133), Yount, Adrian Beltré (19-363) and then Chourio.

Youth is a theme that defines the entirety of Milwaukee's 2024 opening day roster even beyond Chourio.

Blake Perkins, Joey Ortiz and Andruw Monasterio also started on their first opening day

Eleven other players heard their names called and ran to the foul line on opening day for the first time in their careers Friday. Along with Chourio, centerfielder Blake Perkins, second baseman Joey Ortiz and third baseman Monasterio were in the starting lineup with Perkins and Ortiz both singling and Monasterio walking and scoring a run.

Joining that foursome as first-time opening day roster members are right-handers Trevor Megill, Elvis Peguero, Abner Uribe and Thyago Vieira, left-handers DL Hall and Bryan Hudson, outfielder-infielder Sal Frelick and infielder Oliver Dunn.

Megill pitched a scoreless seventh and Uribe locked down the game with a save in the ninth.

"It's great," Frelick said. "There's some older guys on their first opening day roster, some young guys. So, it's a good mix. To be in New York City, playing the Mets on opening day, there's just something a little more added to it.

"Really excited."

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Brewers' Jackson Chourio played huge role in victory in his MLB debut