San Diego Padres catcher Christian Bethancourt experienced a rather eventful game on Tuesday, playing four positions including pitcher in a blowout.
A desperate time called for a time-honored, yet desperate, measure.
When a pitching staff gets thinned out and a rout is on, it’s not out of the ordinary for a manager to turn to an athletic position player to pitch an inning or two to get through a game. The move is intended to save the rest of the pitching staff for the battle of another day.
On Tuesday, San Diego Padres back-up catcher Christian Bethancourt was called on to help bail out a well-taxed bullpen, and he came through… OK, anyway. James Shields and Luis Perdomo gave up 16 runs to the Seattle Mariners. Then Leonel Campos had faced nine hitters in 2.1 innings. So Padres skipper Andy Green turned to Bethancourt to try and get through the eighth inning.
Bethancourt faced five hitters, allowed two hits, hit a batter and managed to get two outs using a variety of pitches and speeds. His fastball topped out at 96 mph. His knuckleball, or a “BP fastball,” as he called it, came in at 46.
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That kind of variation in speed will certainly catch a hitter’s attention.
So he gave up a couple of hits, but thanks to a little help from Alexi Amarista, Bethancourt didn’t give up any runs.
Did we mention he was the starting catcher in the game, then moved to left field before taking the mound? Once he was relieved, he trotted over to play second base. That’s enough to remind a lot of baseball fans of summer nights playing the game in grade school.
Having a position player pitch is always a good way to keep fans interested in an otherwise out-of-hand game. Like the proverbial box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. But no big league manager is just going to roll someone out there who can’t be respectable. One could argue when Jose Canseco pitched for the Texas Rangers it marked the beginning of the end for Canseco.
But odds are we’ll remember Canseco a lot longer than we will Bethancourt. Unless Bethancourt has a header on a fly ball or writes a tell-all book.
Eh, even then Canseco is likely to be remembered longer.
But for the fans who hung out to the end in Seattle, maybe Bethancourt made a name for himself.