Murphy, Cabral achieve firsts in debuts

Murphy, Cabral achieve firsts in debuts

NEW YORK -- When JR Murphy walked toward home plate for his eight-inning at-bat on Monday, the Yankee Stadium scoreboard in center field read, "Hitting for Cano."

The rookie catcher was taking his first Major League at-bat, and he was doing it in place of All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano.

Murphy made the most of his opportunity, too, drilling a hard ground ball at White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie and beating the throw to first for his first career hit.

"I didn't see what happened. I knew I hit it hard, and I saw that he had a play on it, but then I just started running," Murphy said. "I didn't know it was a hit until [first-base coach Mick] Kelleher told me it was a hit."

Murphy said his parents, who were in the stands, had their whole section "going crazy." The Yankees saved the ball for him, and Murphy said his mom plans on framing the lineup card, which manager Joe Girardi gave to him after the game.

"I was pretty nervous," Murphy said. "They told me in the bullpen and I ran down, so the nerves started then. I was pretty much nervous all the way until I got into the box, but after I took the first pitch, I felt OK."

Another Yankees rookie also got his start on Monday as reliever Cesar Cabral made his Major League debut. Cabral pitched a scoreless eighth inning in Monday's 9-1 win over the White Sox, giving up one hit and recording his first strikeout.

It represents the end of a long road back for Cabral, who missed all of 2012 with a stress fracture in his elbow.

"It feels really, really good right now," Cabral said. "My rehab went great. Thank God for it."

Cabral said the Yankees gave him the scorecard of Monday's game, something he'll leave in his house, so he can remember what he called a "great experience."

"You get a first strikeout and then a first hit," Girardi said. "It's nice to get some kids their first taste."

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