PHILADEPHIA — He was in a ballpark he never had been to, sitting in a clubhouse he never had seen before waiting on an Opening Day he never had experienced, but whatever nerves Mookie Betts was dealing with Monday were stuffed behind a poker face.
He kept his routine as normal as possible.
"It was pretty much the same thing as spring training," Betts said. "Only without the practice."
He sat at his locker, thumbed through his phone.
"I had some text messages," he said. "Good luck. That's about it."
His uncle, former Red Sox Terry Shumpert, had given him a call Sunday night and checked back in Monday morning. He kept his advice simple.
"He just said, 'Go play and don't worry about the rest of it,' " Betts said.
After the blur this time a year ago of running through Double A to the major leagues by June as a 21-year-old, being the youngest player to take center field for the Red Sox in the season opener since Tony Conigliaro in 1964, felt somehow less surreal.
So when the day was over and he walked off the field with a single and a home run in four at-bats as the leadoff hitter in the Sox' 8-0 win over the Phillies, the performance felt as normal as possible.
"Just another day here," Betts said. "Only difference is it was the first one. Just another game."
Betts did as much as he could to prepare himself, hitting .429 in spring training. But at 22, being the youngest player to hit leadoff for the Sox in an opener since Rico Petrocelli did it at 21 in 1965, it meant doing some nerve-management.
He picked every brain possible in the Red Sox clubhouse about what to expect.
Walking out of the team's workout Sunday, Betts chatted up Shane Victorino about what it was like to play center field at Citizens Bank Park, since Victorino had played more than 500 games there in his career.
"You played here a long time in center," Betts asked. "What are some of the things you worked on? What are some of the things you know?"
Arming himself with info helped take the edge off.
"Talking to some of the guys before, I had some nerves going into my first Opening Day, but they calmed me down," Betts said. "That's what I love about this group of guys. They just calmed me down and I was ready to go out and play."
He stepped to the plate in the third inning having seen all of two pitches from Phillies ace Cole Hamels, and he didn't hesitate to pounce on the very next one Hamels fed him.
Hamels tried to handcuff Betts with an inside cutter on the first pitch of the at-bat, and Betts shot it five rows past the fence in left field for one of the Sox' five home runs.
Considering patience is part of the package with Betts, who averaged 4.34 pitches per plate appearance last season, jumping at the first pitch was an oddity.
"I didn't tell him to do that," Victorino said.
"As I stepped in the box, I was pretty much zoned out,'' Betts said. "I don't know what I think when I'm hitting. I could think of something, but I'd be lying. I have no idea what I thought."
The irony of getting his first blast of the season off Hamels, the pitcher who was attached to Betts in trade rumors all winter, didn't get past Betts, though.
"That kind of went out the window during the game," he said. "But when you bring it up, it's kind of funny."
It was all part of the Opening Day experience, which Betts did his best to treat like any other day.
The only difference was his phone. He had more messages after the game.
"I've got like 30 messages," he said. "So I've got to go through that. That's going to be fun."