By Ryan Hatch
NEW YORK — Cole Figueroa slept four hours the night before his debut with the Yankees on Thursday.
He said it probably helped.
Figueroa, called up Thursday morning from Triple-A Scranton, went 2-for-4 with two runs scored in his Yankees debut, a 6-2 win over the Oakland A’s. He’s the first Yankees player to collect two or more hits in his debut since Johnny Damon in April 2006.
“There was this tired aspect, so I probably wasn’t as amped as I would have been if I’d have gotten a full night’s rest,” Figueroa said. “I think it actually played in my favor.”
Figueroa had been called up during his minor league game Wednesday that went 12 innings. He started Wednesday at third base in favor of theinjured Chase Headley.
He said he didn’t get to bed until three o’clock in the morning and woke up just several hours later, but glad he was able to contribute right away.
“Obviously this being my first game, making a good first impression, it was nice,” Figueroa said. “Hopefully I continue that.”
But, at this age (28), he said he doesn’t put a ton of pressure on himself, even if it was his first game for the Yankees.
“I’m not a young guy anymore, prospect-wise speaking,” he said. “So I don’t typically put that much pressure on myself. Been kind of in the similar situation last year.”
Figueroa played for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2014 (23 games) before being picked up by the Yankees last December as a free agent. He hit .317 in 77 games with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders this season.
Manager Joe Girardi was happy with Figueroa’s day Wednesday.
And he wasted no time with the big league club. In the fourth inning Thursday he smoked a double down the right field line that caromed off first base umpire John Tumpane. It’s about as close as a ball can be to going foul. (The A’s protested the call, but never challenged it, and the hit stood.)
“It was close,” he said. “I knew the call was over the bag. I couldn’t tell from my vantage point, but [Tumpane] had the best look at it.”
Overall, Figueroa said he wasn’t all that intimidated or anxious in his first game. It helped, he said, being in spring training with most of the regular players the Yankees carry on their roster.
“It’s nice seeing some familiar faces,” he said. “Not have to go through the whole acquaintance process.”
And he might continue to play through the weekend depending on how Headley is feeling. Headley had some inflammation behind his right knee from a few days ago. He said Thursday that he felt better, but there’s no guarantee he starts Friday night against the Red Sox.
If Headley can’t go, the Yankees appear to have a solid backup in Boston.
“Great day for Cole,” Girardi said. “Two big base hits. Great day for him.”