With his team down 7-1 in the top of the eighth inning, Cubs manager Joe Maddon made an unlikely call to the bullpen on Monday night. Lefty Randy Rosario had just allowed a pinch-hit RBI single to Nick Ahmed of the Diamondbacks making it a six-run game. Known for his unconventional thinking (such as saving bullpen arms by playing the pitcher in the field), Maddon called upon catcher Victor Caratini to take over mound duties.
Position players are usually a last resort when it comes to pitching. They only pitch during blowouts or extra inning affairs. But Maddon chose to save a few arms by raising the white flag and handing the ball to Caratini, who induced a flyout to end the eighth.
Caratini allowed a lead off single to Paul Goldschmidt in the top of the ninth before getting a groundball double play. Maddon then moved Caratini to first base and handed the ball to first baseman Anthony Rizzo who got the final out of the inning.
Meanwhile in Arlington, the Athletics were pounding the Rangers 15-3 in the top of the eighth when Jeff Banister raised the white flag and called upon outfielder Carlos Tocci to pitch. Tocci pitched two-thirds of an inning before Ryan Rua moved from left field to the mound for the ninth. Rua pitched a perfect final frame and struck out Franklin Barreto.
In review, four position players took to the mound Monday night adding to the dozens who already have in 2018 across the MLB. I personally am a fan of the position player pitching. I've been around high school and youth baseball so much where it's a regular occurrence that it has grown on me. So it got me thinking:
- How in the world have the Orioles not been in a situation where a position player was needed to pitch with as terrible as this season has been and with the way Buck likes to burn through relievers through matchups? And,
- If the Orioles ever do get to that point this year, who would likely take the ball?
Since Buck's first full season as manager in 2011, we have seen just two position players take the mound for the Orioles. The first was Chris Davis during a 17-inning marathon in Boston in 2012. The second, and most recent, was now-former Oriole Ryan Flaherty who tossed an inning during a loss to the Astros in 2016.
With Flaherty now in Atlanta, here are a few likely candidates on the current roster to take the mound if needed.
INF/OF Jace Peterson
Like Flaherty, Peterson is a guy who carries many gloves and is not afraid to play multiple positions in the field. Utility players are usually the favorites to call upon when you need someone to pitch that isn't afraid to play somewhere new.
OF Craig Gentry
Despite currently being the disabled list with a left rib fracture, Gentry does have pitching experience which makes him a possible option. He took to the mound for the Rangers in 2012 throwing an inning while allowing three hits, two earned runs, and a walk. I'm not sure how much he cares about his career ERA currently being 18.00 but there have been a handful of position players to make more than one pitching appearance in the career.
1B/3B/OF Danny Valencia
Unless he is traded as part of the fire sale the Orioles seem to be going into this July, Valencia is another player with the "utility" tag slapped on him who is willing to do almost anything to help his team. Although Valenica does not have a pitching appearance in his nine-year big league career, the longer he stays in Baltimore, the more likely it seems that we will see him throw at least once.
C Austin Wynns
It almost common practice to see a catcher pitch at least once in their career. After all, it is their job to think like a pitcher during a game behind the plate. In fact, former Orioles farmhand J.P. Arencibia made a pitching apprentice for the Rangers in 2014, and 38-year old David Ross made two pitching appearances for the Cubs in 2015. However, I personally am not a fan of catchers pitching and I imagine old-school Buck isn't either. The reason being that catchers throw more than any other position player during the course of a game. Obviously position players don't always go up on the mound and try to throw 95 MPH every pitch, but it's better to be safe with as valuable as having a good catcher is to teams.
Wild Card: OF Adam Jones
While we may never see Jones actually toe the rubber even just for an inning, he has been seen messing around with teammates pretending to pitch during batting practice and warmups. Plus, most position players who pitch volunteer to do it because they want to have some fun. We've seen the fun-loving Jones spend the nightcap of a doubleheader this season exploring Camden Yards by visiting the bullpen and the grounds crew area in right-center, so why not give him an inning just for fun? For all we know, Jones - or any of his fellow position players - could be a better pitcher than what the O's have thrown out there to this point.