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Lutz gets monkey off his back with first hit

Donald Lutz knows a thing or two about the Hofbräuhaus, having been to the famous beer hall a couple of times. That’s the original in Munich, Germany, of course, not the one across the river from Great American Ball Park in Newport.

The newest Reds outfielder started his first series in Cincinnati on Monday, and he plans to get a taste of the area’s rich German history as soon as he can. Lutz was born in Watertown, N.Y., but he moved to Germany with his family when he was 1.

Lutz’s dad is American and his mom is German, so he’s a citizen of both countries. He made history last week when he was called up from Triple-A Louisville to take the injured Chris Heisey’s roster spot and became the first player from Major League Baseball’s International European Academy to play in the big leagues.

Germany, a soccer-crazed country that probably has more than a dozen other sports ahead of baseball in the pecking order, has taken notice of Lutz. The most famous German athlete playing in the USA, Dirk Nowitzki, congratulated Lutz on Twitter after he got his first big-league hit Sunday in Chicago.

“Stark mein junge,” Nowitzki wrote.

Translation: “Great my boy.”

Lutz was hitless in his first six at-bats, so he was excited to get the first one out of the way in the seventh inning. He was hit by a pitch on the ankle the same at-bat, but the umpire didn’t see it. He then singled to center and later scored on a double by Joey Votto in the Reds’ 7-4 victory.

“It was a great feeling,” Lutz said. “I just got the monkey off my back. I think I was pushing a little bit my first couple at-bats, trying to show what I can do. I just went back to my game plan and did my thing. It was awesome.”

Lutz recorded his first career RBI an inning later with a groundout to second with the bases loaded.

“That was a big RBI he got,” Reds manager Dusty Baker siad. “He was out of sync when he got here. Hopefully, he can get back in sync while he’s here and help us. I just tell him to be yourself. It’s the same game. I guess easier said than done. How many young men in life reach their lifetime goal at 22, 23?”

The 24-year-old Lutz didn’t start playing baseball until he was 15 when he attended a MLB academy in Germany. He may never be as big as Nowitzki or anyone playing in the Bundesliga, Germany’s soccer league, but he’s proud to be the first German-developed player to play in the big leagues.

“I’m getting a little more attention from the media,” Lutz said. “I’m in every newspaper over there. I have so many people hitting me up. It will definitely help me get more attention for baseball, which was my goal. I’m really happy.”

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