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Pitchers Who Played Other Positions, Part 3

Pitchers who played another position because their teams were out of position players:

Note that many of these games occurred between 1986 and 1989, when major league teams voluntarily shortened their rosters to 24 from 25 to save money.

New. Travis Wood, Spencer Patton, and Pedro Strop, Chicago Cubs, June 28, 2016.

New. Shelby Miller, Arizona Diamondbacks, April 24, 2016.

Shortstop Nick Ahmed was ejected arguing a called third strike in the bottom of the 12th.  For the 13th inning, 2B Jean Segura moved to SS, RF Brandon Drury moved to 2B, LF Yasmany Tomas moved to RF, and Miller, who had come into the game as a pinch runner for Zach Greinke (who was himself pinch hitting for the pitcher), moved to LF.  The Diamondbacks would give up two runs in the 13th, both scoring on hits to Miller.

New. Jason Gurka, Colorado Rockies, September 15, 2015.

Carlos Gonzalez fouled a ball off his leg in the top of the 16th inning.  Though Gonzalez completed his at bat, he was replaced by Gurka in RF for the bottom of the 16th.  (Note: Gurka was not one of the record 13 pitchers used by the Rockies in this game.)

New. Roy Oswalt, Philadelphia Phillies, August 24, 2010.

Ryan Howard was ejected for arguing a check-swing third strike that ended the bottom of the 14th inning. Oswalt, making his first appearance against his former team, came in to play LF to start the 15th inning, with LF Raul Ibanez moving to 1B for the first time since 2005.

1. Kyle Lohse, St. Louis Cardinals, April 17, 2010.

The Cardinals had used all 7 members of their bullpen through 17 scoreless innings and didn’t want to use a starter to pitch, so 3B Felipe Lopez moved to the mound. CF Joe Mather moved to 3B, RF Ryan Ludwick moved to CF, LF Allen Craig moved to RF, and Lohse came in to play LF.

Lohse fielded two balls in three innings, a sacrifice fly in the 19th and a pop fly down the line in the 20th. He also grounded out with the tying run at 2nd and 1 out in the bottom of the 19th.

2. Noah Lowry, San Francisco Giants, June 8, 2007.
Starting catcher Bengie Molina was taken out of the game for precautionary reasons in the 5th inning, leaving Eliezer Alfonzo as the Giants’ only available catcher. However, Alfonzo was hurt during a 10th inning collision at the plate, forcing the Giants to scramble their defense. Third baseman Pedro Feliz, who had never caught in the majors, moved to C; CF Randy Winn moved to 3B for the first time in his career; RF Dan Ortmeier (who had replaced the injured Fred Lewis in the 1st inning) moved to CF, and Lowry came off the bench to play right.

After a six-minute delay, the game resumed with a runner on 1st and 2 outs in the top of the 10th. Lowry did not field a ball during his short stint in the field; the A’s hit consecutive singles to score twice, and also twice stole 2nd on the inexperienced Feliz to take a 5-3 lead. In the bottom of the 10th, Lowry, a .178 career hitter, struck out to end the game.

3. Jason Simontacchi, St. Louis Cardinals, April 10, 2004.

Up 10-2 in the 8th inning, Cardinal manager Tony LaRussa emptied his bench. However, replacement RF Roger Cedeno pulled his left hamstring chasing Danny Bautista’s single in the bottom of the 8th. Cedeno played the rest of the inning, but would be unable to continue (he was placed on the disabled list the next day and did not return until May 13). In the top of the 9th, Simontacchi pinch-hit for Cedeno, grounding out, and played the bottom of the 9th at LF, with LF Marlon Anderson moving to RF. Simontacchi did not field a ball in his one inning at LF.

4. Chuck McElroy, New York Mets, August 8, 1999.

McElroy and LF Matt Franco swapped positions in the top of the 9th with the Mets trailing the Dodgers 13-3. McElroy fielded a leadoff single and caught a fly ball in his one inning in the outfield.

5. Rick Reed, New York Mets, July 2, 1999.

With 2 outs in the 9th inning, down 13-0, Met pitcher John Franco strained the tendon of the middle finger on his pitching hand (he would be placed on the DL the next day, and would not pitch again until September 5). Out of position players on the bench, but not wanting to use his bullpen, Met manager Bobby Valentine moved 3B Matt Franco to the mound, 2B Luis Lopez to 3B, RF Roger Cedeno to 2B, and Reed (normally a starting pitcher) came off the bench to play RF. Reed fielded one ball, an Otis Nixon triple hit over his head.

6. Ricky Bones, Milwaukee Brewers, August 24, 1993 (Game 2).

Brewers 2B Dickie Thon was ejected, along with nine other coaches and players, after a 25-minute brawl after the bottom of the 9th. (The brawl was started after Oakland’s Dennis Eckersley was ejected for arguing balls and strikes; Oakland manager Tony LaRussa then argued with the home plate umpire for several minutes, prompting Brewers’ manager Phil Garner to complain about the delay. LaRussa and Garner began to argue with each other, Oakland 1B Troy Neel tackled Thon, and the benches emptied.)

Bones was inserted in RF, with RF Darryl Hamilton moving to CF, CF Robin Yount moving to 1B, and 1B John Jaha moving to 2B (for the first and only time in his career). After one uneventful inning, Bones was replaced in RF by DH Kevin Reimer (who had led the AL in outfield errors the previous season in only 110 games).

7. Jose DeLeon, St. Louis Cardinals, May 14, 1988.

After pitching the 15th inning, tied at 5, Randy O’Neal left the game with a sore arm (later diagnosed as an inflammed shoulder). Cardinal manager Whitey Herzog had only three players left on the bench: Randy McWilliams, the next day’s starter (who might not have even been in the ballpark, as the next day’s game was a day game following the May 14 night game); John Tudor, who had thrown 97 pitches two days earlier; and DeLeon, who had thrown 132 pitches the night before. In the 16th inning, Herzog moved 1B Jose Oquendo to the mound, LF Duane Walker to 1B, and brought in DeLeon to play LF.

For the next 4 innings, DeLeon played LF when a lefty hitter batted and would swap positions with RF Tom Brunansky when a righty hitter batted. Incredibly, they would do this 11 times (DeLeon’s listing in the box score: lf, rf, lf, rf, lf, rf, lf, rf, lf, rf, lf, rf). Despite the swaps, DeLeon fielded 2 balls: a fly out to left in the top of the 16th and the go-ahead 2-run double to left in the 19th.

Tudor pinch hit for DeLeon in the bottom of the 19th and grounded out.

8. Ricky Horton, St. Louis Cardinals, August 7, 1987.

Down 12-4 in the bottom of the 8th, out of position players and not wanting to use his bullpen, Herzog moved Oquendo from SS to pitcher, Willie McGee from CF to SS, John Morris from RF to CF, and Horton (normally a relief pitcher) came off the bench to play RF. Horton fielded 2 balls in his 1 inning in right: an RBI double and an RBI single, with the Cardinals losing the game 15-5.

9 & 10. Randy Bockus and Jeff Robinson, San Francisco Giants, September 28, 1986.

Robby Thompson, despite an ailing lower back, was pressed into service as the last man off the bench in the top of the 12th of a 3-3 game. By the bottom of the 13th, Thompson could no longer play (he would miss the Giants’ final 6 games), and Bockus (a September callup relief pitcher) pinch-hit for him. Bockus struck out, and would stay in the game in LF for the 14th inning. With the bases loaded and 1 out in the top of the 14th and righty Jeff Hamilton batting, Giants manager Roger Craig swapped Bockus and RF Mike Aldrete. However, Hamilton would single to Bockus in right, driving in a run. Bockus would continue in RF for the rest of the inning.

In the bottom of the 14th, the Giants tied the game at 5. With runners at 1st and 3rd and 1 out, Mike Krukow, a starting pitcher with a .193 career batting average, pinch hit for Bockus. Krukow lined what looked like the game-winning single to center, but because there was a runner on 3rd and less than 2 outs, CF Jose Gonzalez was playing in and caught the ball.

Jeff Robinson, normally a relief pitcher, replaced Krukow and played RF for the final 2 innings. He did not field a ball.

11 & 12. Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell, New York Mets, July 22, 1986.

After a brutal bottom of the 10th inning brawl, Mets 3B Ray Knight (who had punched Eric Davis in the face, emptying both benches) and RF Kevin Mitchell were ejected. With only catcher Ed Hearn left on the bench, Mets manager Davey Johnson put Hearn in at C, moved C Gary Carter to 3B, lefty P Orosco to RF and brought in righty McDowell to pitch. McDowell got out of a man on 3rd, 1 out jam to end the 10th.

With 2 outs, a man on 2nd, and lefty Max Venable due up in the 11th, the Mets swapped McDowell and Orosco. The umpires let Orosco throw the customary eight warmup pitches, prompting a protest from Reds manager Pete Rose, who contended that Orosco was not allowed to warm up, as he had pitched earlier in the game. Orosco struck out Venable to end the 11th.

In the 12th, Orosco allowed a leadoff single. Orosco was clearly tiring, and McDowell came back to the mound, despite the fact that the next three hitters were left-handed. With the lefties due up, Orosco went to LF, and LF Mookie Wilson went to RF.

In the 13th, with righties due up, Orosco and Wilson swapped positions, and would play there for the final 2 innings. Orosco fielded 1 ball, a fly out in the 13th.

In the top of the 14th, Orosco, batting with a runner on 2nd and 0 outs, walked. McDowell, the next batter, struck out, but Howard Johnson homered, giving the Mets a 6-3 lead. McDowell induced three groundouts in the bottom of the 14th to close out the victory.

13. Jaime Easterly, Milwaukee Brewers, May 23, 1983.

Brewer DH Ted Simmons led off the bottom of the 13th inning with a walk and was pinch-run for by Moose Haas, normally a pitcher. The Brewers did not score in the 13th, and the DH spot came up again in the 14th with runners on 1st and 3rd and 2 outs. Easterly, who had a .164 batting average in the National League from 1974-79, pinch hit for Haas, but grounded to short to end the inning. Easterly batted again in the 17th, successfully sacrifice bunting.

14. Fernando Valenzuela, Los Angeles Dodgers, August 17-18, 1982 and June 3, 1989.
15. Bob Welch, Los Angeles Dodgers, August 17-18, 1982.

The 1982 game, played at Wrigley Field, was suspended after 17 innings due to darkness. After 19 innings, the Dodgers had used 23 players, everyone besides starting pitchers Valenzuela and Welch. Disaster struck when 3B Ron Cey was ejected after he was picked off in the top of the 20th; Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda alleged that 1st base umpire Dave Pallone, knowing the Dodgers had no position players left, deliberately threw out Cey in an effort to get them to forfeit.

In the bottom of the 20th, Dodger RF Pedro Guerrero moved to 3B and Valenzuela came in to play RF. Valenzuela was thrilled to play in the field; after the game, he said that this was “one of the most exciting days of my life because I have always dreamed of playing in a position other than pitching.” Valenzuela caught a fly ball with 1 out in the 20th. However, with 2 lefties due up to bat, Lasorda swapped Valenzuela and LF Dusty Baker.

The Dodgers would take the lead in the top of the 21st, though Valenzuela, a .200 career hitter, grounded out with men on 1st and 2nd to end the inning. Welch would take his place in LF (perhaps Fernando was considered too valuable to risk injury?). Like Valenzuela, Welch alternated between LF and RF depending on the hitter, and did not field a ball as the Dodgers closed out a 2-1 victory.

Note: Jerry Reuss, who pitched the final 4 innings of this game for the Dodgers after it resumed, would start and win the regularly scheduled game that day.

The 1989 game was tied at 4 after 20 innings. The Dodgers had used 22 players, everyone but Valenzuela, the previous night’s starter, and Tim Belcher, the next day’s starting pitcher, who was back at the team hotel (the next day’s game was a day game following the June 3 night game). Orel Hershiser had thrown 7 shutout innings in relief and wanted to continue, but Lasorda wouldn’t let him.

In the bottom of the 21st, Dodger 3B Jeff Hamilton moved to pitcher, 1B Eddie Murray moved to 3B, and Valenzuela came in to play 1B. In 2 innings at 1B, Valenzuela would field 2 balls, a pop out and a throw from the pitcher. However, in the 22nd, with 2 outs and runners on 1st and 2nd, Rafael Ramirez would single just over the leaping Valenzuela, driving in the winning run. (Valenzuela was 5’11”, with a chunky physique; the 6’2″ Murray might have caught it.)

Note 1: The game ended at 2:50 a.m. Central Standard Time. Many cable viewers in the Southwest missed the end of the game; the channel carrying Astros games, Houston Sports Entertainment, did not offer 24 hours of programming, and was “piggybacked” onto another channel on several cable systems. At 2 a.m., the feed automatically switched to that other channel.

Note 2: Because normal weekend fill-in Don Drysdale had laryngitis, Vin Scully, Dodger announcer, called the Dodgers-Astros game in Houston the previous night, flew to St. Louis to do the NBC Game of the Week (a 10-inning, 3-1/2 hour game) earlier in the day, and flew back to Houston to work this game. Amazingly, he would call the entire Sunday game, a 13-inning, 4:17 affair.

16. Bobby Castillo, Los Angeles Dodgers, September 10, 1980.

Albuquerque, the Dodger AAA team, was in contention to win the Pacific Coast League, and the Dodgers did not want to hamper Albuquerque by calling up extra players. The decision not to do so would be costly.

In the September 10th game, Bobby Mitchell, Dodger CF, was injured running the bases in the top of the 11th, and the Dodgers had no position players left to replace him. Up 5-3 in the bottom of the 11th, the Dodgers moved 35-year-old Rick Monday from RF to CF, and brought in Castillo, a relief pitcher, to play RF. Castillo and LF Dusty Baker swapped positions depending on the handedness of the batter.

The Astros led off the 11th with a single to center, a force out, and a double to center. It is doubtful, but unclear, whether a more rangy CF would have caught either hit. The Astros later tied the game at 5, but the inning would end on an Enos Cabell fly ball double play, with Baker in RF throwing the potential winning run out at the plate.

(Note: Retrosheet says Castillo. Castillo playing RF makes more sense, as Cabell was a righty, but the game reports are clear that Baker was in right.
LA Times, 9/11/1980: “Enos Cabell was the batter, and the Dodgers went about saving the game again – switching left fielder Dusty Baker and Castillo and shifting the entire the outfield toward right.

“Sure enough, Cabell hit a soft liner right at Baker, who threw out pinch runner Julio Gonzalez at the plate.”)

The Dodgers lost the game in the 12th inning on a Jose Cruz, Sr. home run, and the loss dropped the Dodgers into a flat-footed tie with the Astros for the NL West lead.

Dodger players were understandably upset. Rick Monday, Dodger outfielder, after the game: “Obviously, they think the minor league playoffs are more important than the major league playoffs. We’ve needed an infielder for four weeks now.”

The Astros clearly had a different philosophy. Unlike the Dodgers, who had called up only 2 players, the Astros had called up 9. This had an effect on the Astros’ AAA team, Tucson, who would be eliminated by Albuquerque in the PCL playoffs, but, as Astros manager Bill Virdon said, “[W]e still had players left on the bench at the end of the game.” Those players included call-ups Gary Woods, who pinch-hit and singled in the tying run in the 11th, and Scott Loucks, who had pinch-run and scored that tying run.

The next day, Albuquerque beat Hawaii, winning the PCL title, and the Dodgers called up 2 players: 40-year-old pinch-hitter Vic Davalillo and 26-year-old infielder Jack Perconte.

Both L.A. and Houston would finish the regular season with 92-70 records, but Houston won the playoff game 7-1. I can’t imagine the Dodgers cared about Albuquerque’s pennant fate in subsequent years.

17. Dave Stieb, Toronto Blue Jays, August 28-29, 1980.

The August 28 game, tied at 5 after the 14th inning, was suspended at 5:03 p.m. Toronto time (Retrosheet has 4 p.m., but is contradicted by game reports) because of the ongoing Canadian National Exhibition. Fans were annoyed (especially because they would not be allowed in the following day to see the conclusion of the game), but Exhibition Stadium had to be prepared for a poorly reviewed rock concert that night (The Cars, with opening act Martha Davis & the Motels).

The next morning, Otto Velez, who had played all 14 innings at 1B, fractured his left cheekbone in a two-car crash (the other driver, 19-year old Dawn Binkowski, had run a red light), and this injury would cost him the rest of the season. Velez was a passenger; the driver was Twins OF/DH Bombo Rivera, who was not hurt.

When the game resumed, the Blue Jays needed to replace Velez, but had no position players left. Stieb came off the bench to play LF and LF Garth Iorg moved to 1B. Stieb fielded one ball in the top of the 15th, an RBI single to left, as the Twins scored twice to take a 7-5 lead. In the bottom of the 15th, Stieb flied to center in what would be one of two plate appearances in his career (the second would come 18 years later, during interleague play).

18. Terry Forster, Pittsburgh Pirates, July 1, 1977.

The Pirates used their remaining bench in the top of the 14th in taking a 6-4 lead. The Phillies rallied, however, leading off with two singles and a double. The double scored Mike Schmidt from 2nd; Schmidt had not run hard, thinking the ball would be a homer, and he just beat the throw to the plate. The Pirates disagreed, and SS Frank Tavarez was ejected for arguing. With no position players left, the Pirates shifted 2B Phil Garner to SS, RF Dave Parker to 2B (his only career game there), and put Forster in RF.

(Forster must have been a decent athlete when he was younger; he batted .397 [31 for 78] for his career and was twice used to pinch-run. Later in his career, he packed on the pounds, and was memorably described by David Letterman in June 1985 as “a fat tub of goo.” Forster would capitalize on his sudden fame, appearing on Letterman’s show [walking on stage while eating a sandwich] in July, releasing a music video entitled “Fat Is In” [set on a dessert island, the Isle of Chocolate Cones] in August, and speaking at schools and corporate events after the season ended. Unfortunately for Forster, he was quickly upstaged by the even more corpulent William “Refrigerator” Perry, who would debut with the Bears that September. Perhaps Forster realized that he no longer had cult-hero status as “THE fat athlete”; he spent two weeks in November at a fat farm, and lost 45 pounds in the off-season.)

The Phillies would score twice more in the 14th inning, singling in the winning run over a drawn-in infield. Forster did not field a ball.

19. Steve Renko, Montreal Expos, September 22, 1972.

Expos SS Tim Foli was probably ejected after grounding into a double play to end the top of the 10th inning (the record is unclear, but he played in 11 of the Expos’ final 12 games, all meaningless, so he was likely not injured). With no bench players left, pitcher Steve Renko played 1B for the next 3 innings with 1B Bob Bailey moving to 3B and 3B Coco Laboy moving to SS. Renko had 5 putouts, but the Expos would lose in the 12th.

20. Bennie Daniels, Washington Senators, May 7, 1963.

Washington RF Jim King was either injured or ejected after his second strike while batting in the bottom of the 10th (likely injured, as he didn’t play the next day, a 13-inning game). With no position players left, pitcher Jim Bronstad pinch-hit for King, striking out (charged to King). In the 11th, 40-year old LF Minnie Minoso moved to RF (his only appearance there in 1963) and Daniels came off the bench to play LF. The Indians had 3 hits to right in the inning, scoring 4 times, while Daniels did not field a ball.

21. Jim Maloney, Cincinnati Reds, September 29, 1961.

The Reds had recently clinched the pennant, and with an 7-1 lead in the 5th, began to empty their bench. The Reds’ last substitute was pinch-hitter extraordinaire Jerry Lynch (19 for 47, 25 RBI as a pinch hitter in 1961) in the top of the 9th, batting for RF Wally Post. Lynch struck out looking, argued the call, and was ejected. This forced the Reds to use Maloney, a starting pitcher, at LF for the bottom of the 9th, with LF Gus Bell moving to RF. In his inning in LF, Maloney caught one fly ball.

22. Claude Osteen, Cincinnati Reds, April 27, 1961.

Down 3-2 in the top of the 8th, with men on 2nd on 3rd and 2 outs, Reds 3B Willie Jones contested a 2-1 strike call and was ejected from the game. With no position players left, Osteen (.188 career BA) pinch-hit for Jones and struck out (credited to Jones). Osteen stayed in the game at LF, with LF Frank Robinson moving to 3B, and did not field a ball in his one inning of play.

23. Hal Brown, Baltimore Orioles, July 23, 1958.

The Orioles emptied their bench in the top of the 9th, coming back from a 4-2 deficit with a 4-run inning. In the bottom of the 9th, Gus Triandos (who had pinch-hit for the SS) came in to catch, Jim Busby (who had pinch-run for the catcher) went to CF, 3B Brooks Robinson moved to 2B, 2B Billy Gardner moved to SS, CF Al Pilarcik moved to RF, and Brown came in to play 3B. (Brown replaced RF Gene Woodling in the lineup. Woodling had never played a non-outfield position in the majors and was 35 years old, so maybe he was uncomfortable moving to the infield.) Brown did not field a ball in a 1-2-3 9th inning.

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4 thoughts on “Pitchers Who Played Other Positions, Part 3

  1. "Mike Krukow, a starting pitcher with a .193 career batting average, pinch hit for Bockus."

    Is this the last occasion that a pitcher has pinch-hit for another pitcher?

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