Ben Rice has the scoop for his major league debut with Yankees

NEW YORK (AP) — Ben Rice was ready with the scoop for his major league debut.

After running to first base Tuesday night, the 25-year-old turned to the Bleacher Creatures during his first Yankee Stadium Roll Call. He rotated his right hand a half-dozen times over his glove as if eating, well, rice.

“I came up with that in the locker room probably only like an hour before the game,” he said after going 1 for 4 in New York's 4-2 win over Baltimore. “A bunch of guys were asking me what I should do, and I was like, all right, I've got to do something that has to do with rice, right? I'm eating a bowl of rice for them.”

Rice singled to right field in the third inning as part of a two-run rally that built a 3-0 lead.

“Just an unreal experience. Totally surreal. I’m going to remember it forever,” he said.

Rice's mom and dad were at the game along with his girlfriend, her family and high school and college friends.

Called up because Anthony Rizzo broke his right forearm on Sunday night, Rice learned of the promotion when Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre manager Shelley Duncan contacted him by FaceTime at 10 p.m. Monday night.

Rice drove from Scranton to New York on Tuesday — he made phone calls during the trip to try to keep his mind busy. He had never been to Yankee Stadium and went directly to the ballpark without stopping at a hotel.

“Whirlwind is probably the best word, right?” he said. "I felt like I was kind of on the move the whole day, running around trying to settle in, get acclimated and everything, and then kind of just get thrown right into it, into the game."

Rice was hitting .275 with 15 homers and 26 RBIs in 49 games this year with Double-A Somerset and Scranton. Promoted to Triple-A on June 5, Rice batted .333 with three homers, 10 RBIs and a 1.059 OPS in 11 games with the RailRiders. A 12th-round pick in the 2021 amateur draft from Darmouth, he played 118 minor league games at catcher and 55 at first.

“He’s still obviously learning the position and not even a finished product over there, but we just felt like he was the guy that could potentially give us the greatest impact,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

Rice showed some inexperience when he ranged to his right to field Austin Hays’ second-inning grounder that Gleyber Torres could have gloved at second. Thinking that Rice would cover first, Nestor Cortes stayed on the mound and Hays reached with an infield hit.

Boone said Rice, DJ LeMahieu and Oswaldo Cabrera will form the corners of the infield while Rizzo is sidelined.

Yankees bench coach Brad Ausmus, like Rice a former Dartmouth catcher, managed New York through the top of the sixth inning until Boone reached the dugout following the high school graduation of son Brandon.

“That was super cool and Dartmouth is not the only connection. My old travel baseball coach was his longtime agent," Rice said. "I’ve kind of known who Brad was for a long time, and a bit of a role model for me."

Even though he grew up in the Boston area, Rice was a Yankees fan.

“I loved Derek Jeter. He was always my favorite player,” Rice said. “My parents always said that he was a good role model. I read his biography when I was a little guy.”



Ronald Blum, The Associated Press