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Pitchers playing the outfield

Posted by Andy on May 18, 2011

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 at 9:17 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

52 Responses to “Pitchers playing the outfield”

  1. Les Scan Says:

    I would like to see a list of OF/IFers that have pitched in a game.

  2. Actually the site has a page dedicated to just that:

    That's a list of all players who played in the field more than pitched, so includes even Babe Ruth and Rick Ankiel, but also includes Derek Bell, Jose Canseco, etc.

  3. I personally think that if you have a LF who's terrible (read Braves 2010) and you're facing a team like the phillies, having an athletic guy who can play LF on the mound to start the game and a reliever who can go in and fire a few pitches to get Utley and Howard out, it may not be a bad thing, but it probably would wreck the relievers arm.

  4. Didn't Oswalt play LF and record a putout for the Phillies last year? I think it was in the postseason...

  5. NotThatMikeD Says:

    @3: re: wrecking the pitchers arm--Not necessarily. Some relievers get up and down a few times based on the situation in the game so standing in the outfield shouldn't affect them too much.

  6. #4, post-season games would not have shown up on my search, however I just did a new search for post-season games and found nothing.

    Oswalt did come into 2 games as a reliever in last year's post-season but I don't think he played any other position.

  7. Andy - sorry, need to correct myself: Oswalt came in to play LF in the 8/24/10 16 inning loss to the Astros. He even was the final out in the game, as the Astors intentionally walked Utley to face him. The reason he didn't come up in the search is he didn't pitch in the game, they were just out of bench players.

  8. It was not unheard back in the 1950s for managers to switch a pitcher to a fielding position for one batter It was also fairly common to use a better-hitting pitcher as a pinch-hitter earlier in games, saving the bench for later. Likewise, pitchers were used as pinch runners.

    I do think some managers used the switch more often than others...Al Lopez comes to mind

  9. Does the completion of the pine-tar game count? It was more of a statement of farce by Billy Martin, but I wish I had seen this:

    George Frazier replaces Rich Gossage pitching
    Butch Wynegar replaces Jerry Mumphrey (CF) playing C batting 3rd
    Ken Griffey replaces Bert Campaneris (2B) playing 1B batting 1st
    Don Mattingly moves from 1B to 2B
    Ron Guidry replaces Rick Cerone (C) playing CF batting 9th

  10. John Autin Says:

    "Paging Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell ...."

    One of many wacky, fun memories from the Mets' most entertaining season.

    Not only did Orosco and McDowell take turns pitching the 10th through 14th innings, switching to a corner OF position when not on the mound (with Mookie Wilson trotting back and forth to man the more important corner OF spot). They also each batted in the 14th ahead of HoJo's game-winning HR; Orosco drew a walk, while McDowell struck out (probably trying to bunt).

    I remember watching this game on TV, late into a Tuesday night. It was so bizarre, I couldn't turn it off. And although they already had an 11-game lead in the division, when they one this one, there was no doubt left that it would be their year.

  11. Dave Trembley used Jeremy Guthrie as a pinch runner twice in 2009, both times Guthrie scored.

  12. John Autin Says:

    P.S. to #10 -- I should have mentioned that the Mets were down 3-1 with 2 out and none on in the top of the 9th. Dykstra walked, Teufel doubled, and Pete Rose brought in John Franco to face Keith Hernandez. Mex hit a fly ball to RF which Dave Parker botched, letting in the tying runs.

    There was a runner in scoring position with less than 2 out in each of the bottom of the 9th, top and bottom of the 10th and 11th, bottom of the 12th, and top of the 13th, but all threats went for naught.

    In the bottom of the 10th, Pete Rose had a pinch single, then pinch runner Eric Davis swiped his way across the diamond. Orosco got out of it.

    In the bottom of the 12th, the Reds got 2 on with 0 out, and pitcher Carl Willis tried to sacrifice. Keith Hernandez had other thoughts, charging hard to field the bunt and fire across the diamond, starting a rare 3-5-4 DP (Willis out at 1B).

    What a game. The marks of destiny were all over this season.

  13. I remember a Mets game around 1986 or so when Davey Johnson had Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell in the game at the same time, one pitching and one in right field. If a lefty batter was up, Orosco would pitch and McDowell would play right field, and if a righty batter came up, they would switch positions.

  14. I seem to recall this was one of Whitey Herzog's strategies.

    As part of a double-switch, Herzog would sometimes keep the pitcher being replaced in the game by moving him to the outfield. The idea was to be able to go back to the first pitcher to face a subsequent batter. Here are two games in the same week where Todd Worrell was used like this, except that in each case, after Worrell moved to the outfield, the next batter made the last out the end the inning:

  15. Luis Gomez Says:

    I seem to remember Fernando Valenzuela playing first base in a dodger game during the 80's. Can somebody, some how verify this?

    I am new to this site but I enjoy reading this blogs, I love math, history and baseball, so this website is perfect for me!

  16. First one that I think of... Jeff Nelson had P-LF-P in his box score when Piniella had him move to the outfield in Fenway for one-third of an inning. The ball wasn't hit to him. Here is the game:

  17. Indeed, Fernando played 1B in this game:

    He played the bottom of the 21st and 22nd innings as Jeff Hamilton pitched and lost for the Dodgers.

    Looks like Fernando had to catch a popfly right when he entered the game, too.

  18. @3 @5

    If you come to the mound in relief from another defensive position instead of the 'pen, do you get your normal complement of warm-up tosses?

  19. Larry R. Says:


    JA-There are alot of similarities between this game and game 6 of the Series that year, no?

  20. I believe that Kent Tekulve actually caught a fly ball to end that 1979 game, with Chuck Tanner describing him as looking like Ichabod Crane while doing so. Good times :-)

  21. I am sure most folks are aware of this game -

    The craziest I have ever seen in this regard. The Cardinals had used 7 pitchers by the end of the 15th and the bullpen was done. Jose Oquendo had come in the 9th inning, playing 1B, but Herzog moved him to pitcher to start the 16th. He also brought in Jose DeLeon (the previous day starting pitcher) to play the outfield. Depending on if the batter was RH of LH, DeLeon would play LF or RF, with Tom Brunansky playing the other position. DeLeon's position line in the box score reads

    It looked like the game would be over soon after the witch, as Oquendo gave up a double, intentional BB and a single, but Brunansky nailed Griffey at the plate to save a run. The Braves won it in the 19th when Griffey hit a double to the (ironically) opposite field where DeLeon was playing. I was watching the game on TV and I don't remember that DeLeon could have made a play on it.

    I was crazy, though, to watch these two guys trot across the outfield to a new position time after time while this utility player groomed the mound. I was thinking at the time that it was historic somehow.

  22. Let's not forget Kyle Lohse last year!

  23. Bastaducci Says:

    Sparky Anderson used to use Jack Morris as a pinch runner all the time. I could not of sent my ace out there to pinch run like that but Morris did have some wheels.

  24. On August 17, 1982, the Dodgers beat the Cubs in 21 innings. Both Fernando Valenzuela and Bob Welch played both LF and RF. I wonder if Tommy made them switch positions between batters.

  25. oneblankspace Says:

    According to the rulebook, a pitcher can move to another position only once per (half) inning.

    That said...I remember...

    Dodgers over Cubs in 21 innings in 1982, featuring Bob Welch and Fernando Valenzuela in the outfield (but not at the same time).

    Jim Palmer pinch running in the 1983 ALCS.

    Rick Ankiel (P) pinch running in a 2000 game and being thrown out at the plate trying to score on a fly ball. The player he replaced would not have tried to score.

  26. The great Carlos Zambrano has often pinch on his off days during his career. He is 6' 5" and has been known to break bats over his knee, he loves to pitch in Milwaukee, esp as the home team. Fernando played the outfield as well as first, and was used as a pinch hitter many times. Fernando was obese, but a good hitter. He was also the oldest looking 30 year old I've ever seen in my life.

  27. Speaking of obese pitchers, does anybody remember Terry Forster being on David Letterman? Forster was a fine relief pitcher for the Braves and was slightly obese, but very good. He was also a very good hitter, and a good fielder, with cat-like quickness. He was on David Letterman after Letterman called him a fat-tub-of-goo. He went on the show and did a cooking segment, he made tacos.

  28. Does anybody know why Babe Ruth did not get any votes at all for MVP in 1922 despite being the best player in the league? Was he in trouble for his frequent visits to brothels, or drinking too much beer, or breaking wind too much? Ruth lives life like I would like to but I have a bad heart.

  29. oneblankspace Says:

    Was there an AL MVP in '22?

  30. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Ruth was suspended a big chunk of the season. Still probably deserved some votes though.

    What do you think of Zambrano's hair, Timmy?

  31. Fernando Valenzuela at birth looked older than Donald Trump today.

  32. Speaking of pitchers as OF, a reverse of that: Saw something surprising the other day. Sam Rice homered off Babe Ruth. Rice pitched nine games (prior to play index years). Wonder if Ruth homered off Rice...

  33. Nevermind. Rice didn't give up any homers. Still, thought it was funny.

  34. @30 I like Zambrano's hair cut, it's warrior like, and serves as a reminder to his infielders that they should dive on any grounder in their direction! Z's haircut would be within the rules laid down by the Yankee's concerning haircuts. Rules I think MLB should adopt for all players.
    In 1922 Ruth still had 35 HR and 99RBI, but not one MVP vote. Must have been the suspension. Ruth had a good haircut, and allthough rotund it appears he did not jiggle when running the bases like Prince Feilder does. I've seen no video evidence of Ruth ever jiggling or having his fat shift on him such as Feilder or David Wells.

  35. NotThatMikeD Says:

    @18 I believe that the player coming from the field would get the usual 7 warm-up pitches unless the pitcher was injured and then they would get as many as they need.

  36. John Autin Says:

    Re: Ruth shut out in the 1922 MVP vote:

    George Sisler hit .420, led the league in runs, hits, triples, steals (51 SB with 19 CS), and WAR (8.8).

    Ruth hit great as usual but played only 110 games, didn't reach 100 RBI, and his 35 HRs were (gasp!) just 3rd in the AL. He was 7th in WAR, 5th among position players.

    I think the right man won, and while Ruth certainly had a better year than several guys who got votes, I wouldn't say Ruth "deserved" any votes. He was clearly not one of the 3 most valuable players that year.

  37. John Autin Says:

    Timmy P -- I was just wondering if you've ever read the book "The Glory of Their Times," which is an oral history of players from the early decades of the last century. There's a wonderful, long chapter from Wahoo Sam Crawford; very thoughtful, very humane commentary by him. If you haven't read it, I think you would enjoy it.

  38. I have not read the book, but there are audio clips of the interviews with the players on Youtube that I've listened to. I think those interviews were for that book. Crawford was awesome and though he never got out of the 6th grade he talks about classic poetry, books, and music. Hearing those guy's voices is really really incredible. Thanks for the tip, I can never get enough of the old-timer baseball stories, to think what they had to go through in 1910 to take a roadtrip from say Detroit to Boston just boggles my mind. Totally different world from now days.

  39. @15
    Welcome aboard, Luis.

  40. Back in 1990, I remember Cub's manager Don Zimmer using lefty Paul Assenmacher and right-hander Les Lancaster in tandem, pitching/playing leftfield. Zimmer's bullpen was struggling, and there were a few games, that he did this.

  41. Here's two games from 1970.

    Sam McDowell played a game at 2nd base when Dean Chance relieved him for two batters in the eigth inning. The first was an intentional walk and McDowell got the putout at 2nd base to end the inning. McDowell struck out the side in the ninth for the win.

    He also played first for 2/3 of an inning when Dean Chance came in again. McDowell went on to pitch the rest of the game for the loss.

  42. Richard Chester Says:


    Sam Rice is the only HOFer to homer off Babe Ruth.

  43. David Huemer Says:

    @27--Thanks for mentioning Terry Forster-Lifetime .397 hitter!! (31 for 78) As a 20 year old for the White Sox, he went 10 for 19--.526! He only played one game in the field, and I don't think he ever pinch hit. His 145 lifetime OPS+ ties him with Alex Rodriguez.

  44. Luis Gomez Says:

    @ 39

    @26 "Fernando was obese, but a good hitter"

    Yes he was, but he was also a great athlete, he could hit, he could field and he could run too; he was never late to cover first base on a grounder to the first baseman. He was also a smart pitcher. Too bad his great pitching did not last very long.

  45. @27 @44
    Luis & Timmy, it raises the point of how important "fitness" is for a pitcher to be effective.

    To give Terry Foster his due, he didn't duck the David Letterman publicity at all.

  46. Timmy Patrick Says:

    @45 That's correct Terry went on the show after Letterman had been teasing him about being fat for several weeks. Terry was very good-natured about it and joked with Letterman that he wanted to get mad, but then looked in the mirror and decided it was true, he was fat. From what I understand TF was a great guy that use to eat in the bullpen and serve food for his teammates. Terry's hitting stats are unreal for a relief pitcher, and don't forget the catlike quickness! I use to catch every Braves game on WTBS, starting with the great year they had in 1982 with Joe Torre as manager and Dale Murphy in center.

  47. Timmy Patrick Says:

    Also wanted to touch on players that are rotund. C.C. is heavy, but since he rarely runs the bases, he doesn't jiggle. Plus he's a damn fine pitcher.

  48. Richard, that's the thing. Of all them to do it, it was the guy who hit 34 HR!

  49. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Timmy, a request. Can you rank:

    1. The 5 jiggliest players in MLB
    2. The 5 worst hairstyles in MLB

  50. Timmy Patrick Says:

    Jiggle 1 Prince Fielder (when he triples it's not pretty)
    2 Terry Forster
    3 Bob Hamlin
    4 David Wells
    5 Cecil Fielder
    * Sid Fernandez (was really fat, but had beautiful wife!
    John Kruk
    Bobby Jenks
    Bartolo Colon (has lost weight)
    Kung Fu Panda (has lost weght, was better fat)
    Greg Luzinski (w/ white sox)
    C. C. (occasional jiggle, covers first well)
    Babe Ruth (no confirmed jiggle)
    Kirby Puckett (round, but no jiggle, I saw him in play often)
    Keep in mind, I have nothing against the rotund ballplayer, with the execption maybe of Bob Hamlin and Sid Fernandez because their weight kept them from their potential.

  51. Rolf Groth Says:

    This is a great post, my experience has always been that until you get into at least single A ball the pitcher tends to be the best and most versitile player on the team,

  52. A great post. I look forward to reading your blog more often. ~Tina