"It's been a pretty good stretch of weeks, here."
That's an understatement for Middletown's Chad Kuhl, who will complete his comeback from Tommy John surgery by making the Opening Day start for the Pittsburgh Pirates at historic Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.
The 28-year-old Kuhl, who had the surgery in 2018, pitched around a myriad of injuries in the shortened 2020 campaign, but told Pirates.com he learned good news when he was called into manager Derek Shelton's office after his last Spring Training start.
"I walk into Shelty's office, sit down, and close the door. He's like 'hey, how would you like to pitch on Opening Day?' I was super happy and then all of a sudden the door opened, and [fellow pitcher Steven] Brault was standing right there. He was really cool he was there to share in the moment."
Fans weren't permitted at games due to COVID in 2020, so Kuhl said he's excited to have extra sources of energy in the stands.
"I haven't pitched in front of my family since the end of 2018. It's things like that, getting to pitch in front of fans, and then pitch in front of my family, that's what's going to be most special about this thing."
That family grew by one recently, as Chad's wife Amanda gave birth to Hudson Everett Kuhl on March 19.
"I'm just fortunate to have a happy, healthy baby, an amazing wife who is taking care of him right now, and to be fortunate enough to be on an Opening Day roster. For them to have confidence in me for game one, it's been a pretty good stretch of weeks here."
Kyhl enters his fifth season in the Majors, having recorded a 20-23 career record in 70 starts with a 4.36 ERA. He went 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in four Spring Training outings in March.
The former Middletown Cavalier was taken in the 9th round of the 2013 Draft out of the University of Delaware.
Not the only Delaware High School product to watch on Opening Day
Caravel's Jake Fraley is expected to compete for playing time in the Seattle Mariners' outfield. Fraley was projected to be a starter, but started 0-for-15 in the spring, but recovered to a .250 average.
Fraley has appeared in 19 games for the Mariners over the past two seasons, with one RBI to his credit.