Dodgers face Bucs' rookie pitcher in big league debut

Dodgers face Bucs' rookie pitcher in big league debut

PITTSBURGH -- Adrian Gonzalez said he would rather face the best pitcher in baseball than a young arm making a spot start.

But the Pirates' Brandon Cumpton made his big league debut against Los Angeles, something Gonzalez would rather not have to deal with.

"If he's able to execute early on in the first at-bats, now you're in defense mode," the Dodgers first baseman said. "It's always tough. You always want to have a track record with a guy so you kind of have a feel for it."

Dodgers outfielder Skip Schumaker said he never knows how a pitcher in that situation will be feeling, so it takes a few at-bats to feel him out. But getting on that pitcher early before he can settle helps counter that.

"Rookie pitchers, once they settle in, they feel like they belong," Schumaker said. "And you want to try to make them uncomfortable."

Scouting Cumpton wasn't easy for the Dodgers, but 20 years ago, it would have been nearly impossible. When Dodgers manager Don Mattingly played in the 1980s and 90s, it was much more difficult to scout pitchers making their big league debuts.

But now, he says, the technology allows players to pull up Minor League video of Cumpton almost instantly. But video is not a real-life at-bat, and Mattingly said it's always different until a player steps into the batter's box.

Gonzalez said the Minor League videos provide limited angles, making it more difficult to pick up on delivery and tendencies.

"I've never been one to be excited about facing a guy for the first time," Gonzalez said.

Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.