Marson homers in debut as Phils roll
Catcher relishes first game; Taguchi drives in three in finale
PHILADELPHIA -- He's known to at least one of his teammates as "Lou Mar."The nickname hasn't spread into Philadelphia vernacular quite the same way that Phillies fans identify Jimmy Rollins as "J-Roll." But after Sunday's game, the city certainly knows the name Lou Marson. "If he does what he does today," Phils reliever Les Walrond said, "it may stick." Marson, playing in his first Major League game, collected his first hit and home run, driving the Phillies to an 8-3 win over the Nationals to close out the regular season on a high note. "I was excited when I came in today and saw my name up on that board," Marson said. "I just wanted to make the most of it." Marson's window of opportunity opened when the Phillies clinched the National League East on Saturday and manager Charlie Manuel opted to give his regulars a rest in the season finale. Before that, this month had mostly been a learning experience for Marson, the Phillies' top catching prospect. The 22-year-old was called up on Sept. 1. In between catching bullpen sessions and helping warm up pitchers between innings, the youngster soaked in everything he could about his surroundings. "It was great for me to be around the guys and see how they go about their business in a pennant race and what they do every day and how they prepare -- everything like that," Marson said. "Just watching guys play helps me a lot." Marson's two-out single in the fourth sparked a three-run rally that helped the Phils take the lead for good. In the eighth, he smacked a two-run shot to left field that sealed the win. When the ball jumped off his bat and he made his way down the first-base line, the 22-year-old Marson felt like he was floating. "Then, when it went out, it felt normal," Marson said. "It felt like any other home run I've ever hit." Until he got back to the dugout. As is customary when a player hits his first career home run, Marson's teammates briefly gave him the cold shoulder, then piled on to congratulate him. The Phillies are hoping there's more where that came from. "I saw him when he was a rookie," Manuel said. "When he first signed, he was 17 years old out of Arizona. I liked him then and he's going to be a good player. He's got big hands, and he can throw and he can handle the mitt. There's no reason why he can't be a good catcher." The day capped a whirlwind summer for Marson, who stood in Yankee Stadium during All-Star Week and played in the XM All-Star Futures Game, an annual contest that features the game's best prospects. A month later, he caught five games for the bronze medal-winning U.S. Olympic team in Beijing. Playing for Double-A Reading, Marson made the Eastern League All-Star team and finished with a .314 batting average and five homers. But Sunday's home run, Marson said, was the biggest thrill of his life. "I never imagined I'd hit a home run my first time," Marson said, "but I got a good pitch to hit."
Kevin Horan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.