Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 5/6/13
CINCINNATI Donald Lutz arrived in the major leagues last Monday, but he really arrived nearly a week later, a windy Sunday afternoon in Wrigley Field where he was patrolling left field with about a dozen sea gulls.After going 0 for 6 after his call-up from Class AA Pensacola, Lutz banged his first major-league hit, drove in his first major-league run and stole his first major-league base the baseball trifecta.And it all helped the Cincinnati Reds score a 7-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs, which made the day even better for the guy Reds manager Dusty Baker calles, Big Lutz. Its never Donald Lutz or Donnie Lutz or Don Lutz. Its always Big Lutz.Thats because the 24-year-old outfielder stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 250 pounds.He stands bigger than that in Germany, where Lutz grew up. He was born in New York, but when his parents divorced he went to Germany to live with his mother when he was a year old.And, so, of course German-born NBA star Dirk Nowitzki is a hero to Lutz and after he got the hit and the RBI, Lutz tweeted: Felt good getting the W and that first knock.To Lutzs amazement, Nowitzki tweeted, First hit in the big leagues? Star mein junge. (translation: great, my boy). Congratulations.Said Lutz, When he heard I was from Germany, he began following me a little bit and weve been talking a little bit. He is huge in Germany, gets a lot of attention.Amazingly, Lutz never played baseball until he was 15, Never touched a ball, he said. I played hockey and soccer, not baseball.But his older brother talked him into going to a baseball camp and he learned the game rapidly, so rapidly that he attended a training academy supported by major league baseball in Regensburg, Germany. From there he went to the MLB International European Academy in Tirrenia, Italy.And thats where the Reds found him in July, 2007.When Lutz made the majors Monday, he was the second player to make the majors from the European Academy, the first German-developed.Of his first hit, Lutz said, That felt good to get that monkey off my back. I was pushing too hard my first couple of at bats, trying to show what I can do. So on Sunday I went back to my game plan just relax.And thats exactly what manager Dusty Baker told him, Just be yourself. Youre out of synch. Thats only natural that he tried too hard. And being yourself is easier said than done. I mean, how many people have reached their lifelong goal at age 24? Its like, Now what?Amazingly, before Lutzs first hit he thought he was hit by a pitch and replays showed a pitch struck him on the ankle. He started to toss his bat away and run to first base, but umpire Greg Gibson said, Where you going kid? That didnt hit you. No way that hit you.Lutz said, Of course it hit me, but being a brash rookie isnt a good way to start with major league umpires and he quietly put himself back in the batters box. And singled up the middle.Asked if he is glad the umpire missed the call, Lutz said, Oh, yeah. After the umpire told me, Now you gotta hit, I looked up in the sky and thought something good better happen. It did. Thats all right, Ill take it.Lutzs goal now, other than stay in the majors, is to push the game in soccer-nuts Germany, a daunting task.Im getting more attention from the media, every newspaper over there, said Lutz. So many people are hitting me up for interviews. And thats good, to get more attention to baseball. Thats my goal. Now I need to get some TV time over there to get even more attention to baseball.There is another German-trained player from the MLB European Academy in the Minnesota Twins system, Max Kepler.Were good friends and we had a friendly competition and it was something I wanted to do be the first, said Lutz. And when I was Max sent congrats my way and today he tweeted me and said, Damn, I missed being the first German in the major leagues. He is all kinds of jealous.Lutz feels fortunate to be playing for Cincinnati, a city known for its German heritage that includes Oktoberfest.I heard a lot about the Cincinnati German background, he said. I heard about all the good German food here and I cant wait to check those places out and get some good German food.There is a writer from Germany-based Sports I, an internet web-site, who flew over for the current homestand, along with Lutzs girl friend from German, a brother, his best friend, And even a friend from Australia.None of them got to see my first hit in Chicago, just my girl friend, said Lutz. Thats OK, though. I plan to get a few more.
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