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Pitching and playing the outfield – in the same game!

Posted by Andy on August 10, 2007

On the Play Index, we haven't yet done a whole lot of analysis using the ability to search by defensive positions played. There's quite a lot of flexibility built in there, so I thought I'd use it to recall a somewhat remarkable set of games.

A while back, I remember Les Lancaster, a relief pitcher who had a handful of good seasons in the 80's and 90's, actually moving from pitcher to left field and then back to pitcher in a game. Don Zimmer, then manager of the Cubs, wanted to bring in another pitcher to face some batters, but then bring Lancaster back to face the following batter.

This has happened a number of times in history. Using the BI Batting Game finder, we can search for (for example) players who played the defensive positions of both P and LF in a game:

  Cnt Player            Date          Tm   Opp GmReslt PA AB  R  H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF ROE GDP SB CS BOr Positions
+----+-----------------+-------------+---+----+-------+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+---+--+---+--+---+--+--+---+---+--+--+---+---------+
    1 David McCarty     2004-06-12    BOS  LAD L  5-14  1  1  0  0  0  0  0   0  0   0  1   0  0  0   0   0  0  0 4th LF P      

    2 Chuck McElroy     1999-08-08    NYM  LAD L  3-14  0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 1st LF P      

    3 Jeff Nelson       1993-07-15    SEA @BOS W  3-2   0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 6th LF P      

    4 Roger McDowell    1991-10-01    LAD  SDP W  3-1   0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 9th LF P      
    5 Doug Dascenzo     1991-06-28    CHC  STL L  6-14  2  2  0  0  0  0  0   0  0   0  0   0  0  0   0   1  0  0 5th LF P      

    6 Les Lancaster     1990-06-13(1) CHC  NYM L 10-15  2  2  0  0  0  0  0   0  0   0  1   0  0  0   0   0  0  0 9th LF P      

    7 Dan Gladden       1988-06-27    MIN @CAL L  7-16  5  5  1  1  0  0  0   0  0   0  0   0  0  0   0   0  0  0 1st LF P      

    8 Jeff Dedmon       1986-10-01    ATL  CIN L  5-6   0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 9th LF P      
    9 Dane Iorg         1986-06-23    SDP @SFG L  1-18  2  2  0  0  0  0  0   0  0   0  0   0  0  0   0   1  0  0 5th LF P      

   10 Kent Tekulve      1979-09-01(1) PIT @SFG W  5-3   1  1  0  0  0  0  0   0  0   0  0   0  0  0   0   0  0  0 9th LF P      

   11 Wayne Granger     1970-05-01    CIN  PIT W  6-4   0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 9th LF P      

   12 Steve Blass       1968-08-31    PIT  ATL W  8-0   4  3  2  1  0  0  0   0  0   0  1   0  1  0       0  0  0 9th LF P      
   13 Willie Smith      1968-08-27    CHC @SFG L  4-8   4  4  1  1  0  0  1   2  0   0  1   0  0  0   0   1  0  0 6th LF P      

   14 Al McBean         1965-08-18    PIT @HOU W  8-7   0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 9th LF P      

   15 Ruben Gomez       1957-08-04(1) NYG @CIN W  7-6   3  3  0  0  0  0  0   0  0   0  2   0  0  0   0   0  0  0 9th LF P      

There's our man Lancaster at #6. We'll get to him in a minute.

There are a few guys who aren't quite what we were looking for. They are full-time outfielders who also appeared as pitchers in the particular games listed above. Those are #1 McCarty, #5 Dascenzo, #7 Gladden,  and #9 Iorg. #13 Willie Smith is an unusual case of a guy who was mainly an outfielder (339 games) and first baseman (93 games) but also appeared in 29 games as a pitcher. Sort of like a much more recent case, Brooks Kieschnick, who played 74 games as a pitcher, and another 57 as a position player or DH.

So let's look at Lancaster's game in more detail. Here's the box score. The first thing you noticed, totally expected but nevertheless really weird, is how his name appears twice in the pitching line, sandwiched around Paul Assenmacher. You also notice that both Lancaster and Assenmacher got blown saves in this game-that has nothing to do with Lancaster moving around defensively (it just has to do with letting more than one lead slip away.)

Looking into the box score in more detail, we see that Lancaster first entered the game in the top of the 6th, with Gregg Jeffries on first having just singled in a run to make the score 8-5 Cubs over the Mets. He got Mark Carreon to to ground out to end the top of the 6th. The Cubs batted in the bottom of the inning and went out 1-2-3. It was in the top of the 7th that things started to get weird. Dave Magadan, Strawberry, and HoJo all singled to load the bases with no outs. Lancaster struck out Tom O'Malley, but then Kevin McReynolds hit an infield single to score a run and keep the bases loaded. Then, the weirdo double-switch occurred. Assenmacher came in to pitch, taking left fielder Doug Dascenzo's 7th spot in the batting order, and Lancaster moved to left field. Really, it's no different from any standard double-switch we often see in the National League, except that the new defense outfielder, instead of coming off the bench, came off the pitcher's mound. (By the way, the fact that Dascenzo was involved in this play but also appears on the list above is mainly a coincidence--that game where Dascenzo pitched is a different game from the following year.)

Picking up the box score play-by-play, we see that Assenmacher was ineffective in this appearance. Daryl Boston singled to right field, scoring 2. Mackey Sasser singled in another run, then Gregg Jeffries walked to re-load the bases. At that point, the score was 9-8 Mets, and Assenmacher had blown the save. Next, another weird double switch happened. Marvell Wynne came in to play LF, taking Assenmacher's 7th spot in the lineup and the new pitcher was Lancaster, moving in from LF.  So for the second time in the came, Lancaster came in to pitch after Gregg Jeffries reached base (that is soooo weird.) Kevin Elster pinch-hit for Alejandro Pena, hitting a sacrifice fly to make it 10-8 Mets.

From that point on out, it was fairly straightforward. The Cubs scored 1 run in each of the next 2 innings to tie the game at 10. Then in the top of the 9th, Lancaster allowed 5 runs, including a grand slam to HoJo, and took the loss. I don't actually see how Lancaster earned a blown save in this game...maybe somebody can explain that to me?

There are cases where pitchers have gone in to play other positions as well. Right field is the other common one.

 Cnt Player            Date          Tm   Opp GmReslt PA AB  R  H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF ROE GDP SB CS BOr Positions
+----+-----------------+-------------+---+----+-------+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+---+--+---+--+---+--+--+---+---+--+--+---+---------+
    1 Mike Aldrete      1996-07-18    NYY @MIL L  4-16  2  1  1  0  0  0  0   0  1   0  0   0  0  0   0   0  0  0 3rd RF P      

    2 Danny Heep        1990-05-25    BOS @MIN L  0-16  0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 4th RF P      

    3 Todd Worrell      1989-04-11    STL @CHC L  4-5   0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 9th RF P      

    4 Todd Worrell      1987-09-22    STL  PHI W  3-2   0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 9th RF P      
    5 Glenn Wilson      1987-08-05    PHI @NYM L  3-13  5  4  1  1  1  0  0   0  0   0  1   1  0  0   0   0  0  0 2nd RF P      
    6 Keith Comstock    1987-06-17    SFG @ATL L  1-6   0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 9th RF P      

    7 Jesse Orosco      1986-07-22    NYM @CIN W  6-3   2  1  1  0  0  0  0   0  1   0  0   0  0  0   0   0  0  0 6th RF P      
    8 Todd Worrell      1986-06-27    STL  PHI L  1-2   0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 8th RF P      
    9 Todd Worrell      1986-06-24    STL  PIT W  5-2   0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 9th RF P      

   10 Rick Leach        1984-08-15(1) TOR @CLE L  1-16  3  3  0  1  0  0  0   0  0   0  0   0  0  0   0   0  0  0 8th RF P      

   11 Bob Bailor        1980-08-16    TOR @KCR L  5-11  4  4  1  3  0  0  0   0  0   0  0   0  0  0   0   0  1  0 2nd RF P      

   12 Rocky Colavito    1958-08-13(2) CLE  DET L  2-3   4  4  0  2  1  1  0   1  0   0  1   0  0  0   0   0  0  0 7th RF P      

Again you'll notice that a bunch of those guys were actually full-time outfielders who simply made a rare pitching appearance (Aldrete, Heep, Wilson, Leach, Bailor, and Colavito.)

But how about Todd Worrell? He did this maneuver 4 different times! Look into the box scores. If any reader was a Cardinals fan in '86/'87, please feel free to share your memories of Worrell's usage in these games.

Obviously, the Cardinals have another pitcher playing the outfield now, in Rick Ankiel, who came out with a bang last night. Not quite the same thing as above, though, since I don't think we'll see Ankiel on the mound again.

This entry was posted on Friday, August 10th, 2007 at 7:35 am and is filed under Game Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

9 Responses to “Pitching and playing the outfield – in the same game!”

  1. The july 22, 1986 game is famous(a little) because Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell platooned pitching and outfield in the same game. They made several righty / lefty switches in the game, and played the outfield corner positions based on which batter was up.

    Even as a Yankee fan this was an amazing game.

  2. Interesting. McDowell didn't show up on either list for that game (he showed up for a different game) because he played BOTH RF and LF (and P) in the game you mention.

  3. Check out the crazy play-by-play from that game (taken from Retrosheet.org):

    REDS 10TH: OROSCO REPLACED AGUILERA (PITCHING); Parker struck
    out; ROSE BATTED FOR FRANCO; Rose singled to center; DAVIS RAN
    FOR ROSE; Davis stole second; Davis stole third; Knight,
    Davis, Mitchell and Soto ejected for brawl; BROWNING RAN FOR
    DAVIS; Milner struck out; CARTER CHANGED POSITIONS (PLAYING 3B);
    HEARN REPLACED K. MITCHELL (PLAYING C ); OROSCO CHANGED
    POSITIONS (PLAYING RF); MCDOWELL REPLACED KNIGHT (PITCHING);
    Rowdon grounded out (second to first); 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.
    Mets 3, Reds 3.

    REDS 11TH: Perez singled to center; Oester out on a sacrifice
    bunt (third to second) [Perez to second]; Butera grounded out
    (third to first); OROSCO CHANGED POSITIONS (PITCHING); MCDOWELL
    CHANGED POSITIONS (PLAYING RF); Venable struck out; 0 R, 1 H, 0
    E, 1 LOB. Mets 3, Reds 3.

    REDS 12TH: Bell singled to third; MCDOWELL CHANGED POSITIONS
    (PLAYING LF); WILSON CHANGED POSITIONS (PLAYING RF); Parker
    singled to right [Bell to second]; On a bunt Willis grounded
    into a double play (first to third to second) [Parker to second,
    Bell out at third]; Milner flied out to center; 0 R, 2 H, 0 E, 1
    LOB. Mets 3, Reds 3.

    REDS 13TH: OROSCO CHANGED POSITIONS (PLAYING RF); MCDOWELL
    CHANGED POSITIONS (PITCHING); WILSON CHANGED POSITIONS (PLAYING
    LF); Rowdon grounded out (shortstop to first); Perez flied out
    to right; Oester grounded out (second to first); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E,
    0 LOB. Mets 3, Reds 3.

    REDS 14TH: Butera grounded out (shortstop to first); Venable
    grounded out (second to first); Bell grounded out (shortstop to
    first); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Mets 6, Reds 3.

    Also, both Orosco and McDowell batted in the Mets 14th inning when the go-ahead runs were scored.

  4. Shane Halter played all 9 positions in one game for the Tigers (10/1/2000) and Scott Sheldon did it earlier that year for Texas (9/6/2000). Is it possible they didn't show up because they never recorded putouts or assists while pitching, or because they didn't bat while at that position?

  5. They didn't show up because I explicitly searched only for guys who played the two position as listed above (either P and LF or P and RF.) I was looking only for guys who were pitchers and then moved to the outfield. Those "stunt" games by Halter and Sheldon don't interest me all that much since they weren't done because of any true baseball strategy.

  6. [...] Now find me a great relief pitcher who can also play a corner outfield position, and then you’re cooking with gas. [...]

  7. [...] This kind of versatility, assuming that the player can manage defensively, is extraordinarily valuable, in my opinion, just like pitchers who can play a little outfield. [...]

  8. [...] but I don't have time to follow it up at the moment. Maybe someone else could take the ball here. Stat of the Day Pitching and playing the outfield - in the same game! __________________ Dog Days Baseball: Blackwood [...]

  9. [...] but I don't have time to follow it up at the moment. Maybe someone else could take the ball here. Stat of the Day Pitching and playing the outfield - in the same game! __________________ Dog Days Baseball: Blackwood Werewolves Last edited by TribeFanInNC : [...]