A day game at Yankee Stadium on Thursday became the perfect place for Engel Beltre to make his first major league start.

He moved to New York from the Dominican Republic at age 8, and went to high school in the Bronx until it became more financially advantageous for him to return to the Dominican Republic to sign as a 16-year-old free agent rather than to hang around for the First-Year Player Draft.

But he grew up a Yankees fan, played a game in the old Yankee Stadium, and had friends and family on hand for his first big-league action Wednesday night as a pinch runner. The start left him humbled, and so did a sharp single in his first career at-bat.

“I’m so happy to be here and start my big-league career here,” Beltre said. “I always wanted to play in Yankee Stadium and have my family see me play here. That’s a big moment for me.”

Putting Beltre in the lineup, though, forced manager Ron Washington to sit the team’s hottest hitter. Leonys Martin had hit in 11 straight games, a career-best streak, but Washington wanted to rest him after 14 straight starts.

“It wasn’t tough,” Washington said. “My intentions were to do this a long time ago.”

Washington also wiggled Jurickson Profar into the lineup for the first time in a week, giving the coveted rookie a start at third base and moving Adrian Beltre to designated hitter.

A.J. Pierzynski, who had caught five straight games, joined Martin and Lance Berkman on the bench for the finale of the three-game series against the Yankees.