Have you ever been to a Major League Baseball game when all of a sudden the second baseman was called over to the mound to finish out an inning? Didn’t think so! This is a common practice in Youth Baseball Leagues, High School leagues, and sometimes Minor League games, but it never happens in MLB right? WRONG! The situation rarely takes place during an entire MLB season, but it does happen!!
How often does it actually happen? Usually, it only happens in blowouts when a manager wants to save the other arms in the bullpen for another day. While it hasn’t happened yet this season (2008), six position players on four different teams toed the rubber at some point in 2007. Can you guess who they are?
Jeff Cirillo – Arizona Diamondbacks
Aaron Miles – St. Louis Cardinals
Augie Ojeda – Arizona Diamondbacks
Scott Spiezio – St. Louis Cardinals
Josh Wilson – Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Jason Wood – Florida Marlins
Here is a list of position players who last pitched sorted by team: Recondite Baseball
Apparently, Willie Randolph was considering using a position player (Ryan Church) to pitch in a drag against the Phillies in late April. The Mets have used position players in tough situations, but not since 1992. And according to Church he was not thrilled at the idea.
Imagine the pressure of a younger, well-know, highly skilled player trying to hold his reputation after being unexpectedly moved to the mound in a tight situation. If players like Jeter and A-Rod were moved to the mound, fans could care less if they “got rocked” and lost the game anyway. Those trying to hold a position on the field after only being in the league for a few years would rather not make a debut on the mound in the heat of the moment.
In baseball’s early years, baseball teams were smaller, and relief pitchers were relatively uncommon, with the starter normally remaining for the entire game unless he was either thoroughly ineffective or became injured; today, with a much greater emphasis on pitch count (100 being the “magic number” in general), over the course of a single game each team will frequently use from two to five pitchers.
If a team empties the “pen” during a game or sequentially through the course of a week’s worth of games, a few position players must be designated to pitch in these tough situations. You may be thinking about the 2009 World Series odds that a pitcher could possibly pitch in a World Series? So the next time you attend a Major League Baseball game, do not be surprised if a pitcher is replaced by another player who you least expect because POSITION PLAYERS CAN REALLY PITCH!