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Position Players Who Have Pitched For The Padres

Otto Greule Jr

Position players pitching is one of those baseball oddities I get a kick out of seeing. It's not a tactic you like your favorite team to resort to, as it's usually used when on the receiving end of a beatdown. At least it adds some levity to what would otherwise be a dismal loss.

For some reason, I was wondering how many times the Padres have put a position player on the mound. Recalling a couple of occasions but knowing there had to be more, I consulted BR's list of non-pitchers who have pitched. After a few dozen tabs opened just to be sure, along with a nice batch of double-checking, it turns out eight position players have pitched in a total of ten games for the Padres through the years. All ten games, as you might suspect, were losses.

Dane Iorg was the first of the eight. A corner outfielder and occasional first baseman for ten major league seasons, Iorg made two appearances on the mound for the 1986 Padres. His first, and the first for the team, was on June 23. He was brought in for the eighth inning down 14-1 to the Giants and promptly gave up four more runs on two singles and two homers. He got three outs, though, including one strikeout.

Iorg fared better his second time on the hill. On August 30, 1986, 67 days after his last time, he pitched the seventh and eighth innings of a 10-1 loss to Montreal. This time he allowed only a single and no runs, lowering his lifetime ERA to an even 12.00.

Less than a year later, with Larry Bowa having replaced Steve Boros as manager, another position player was put on the mound twice in one season. Luis Salazar pitched the eighth innings of losses at Houston and Cincinnati on June 10 and July 29, 1987. He gave up only a walk his first time out but got touched for a run by the Reds. He allowed a single and a double, bringing in a run on a wild pitch. Between the two games, his ERA stands at 4.50.

Outfielder Darrin Jackson became the third on May 26, 1991. He was brought in by manager Greg Riddoch for the final two innings of a 13-3 loss at Houston. Jackson gave up two runs; one driven in and one scored by future Padre Steve Finley. Coincidentally, Finley would go on to pitch a scoreless inning for the 2001 Diamondbacks.

Most of the decade came and went before Ed Giovanola was asked to mop up in a 15-1 road loss to the Phillies on August 25, 1999. Matt Clement put the Padres in an early 9-1 hole and Matt Whiteside and Dan Miceli combined to give up six more runs in the seventh inning while managing to get only two outs between them. Giovanola came in and gave up a single to David Doster before getting future Friar Alex Arias to fly out to Eric Owens in center field. Gio came back out for the eighth inning, allowing no hits and working around walks to Rob Ducey and Bobby Abreu.

Less than three years passed before another position player pitched for San Diego. On June 30, 2002, Bruce Bochy brought infielder D'Angelo Jimenez in with two outs and a runner on third in the seventh inning of a 13-1 loss at Kansas City. Jimenez promptly got the out and came back out to retire the side 1-2-3 in the eighth.

The sixth non-pitcher and only catcher to pitch for the Friars was Wiki Gonzalez. May 15, 2003 was also the first time it had happened in front of a home crowd. Down 15-6, Boch gave Wiki the ball for the top of the ninth inning against the Braves. Gonzalez threw a scoreless inning, allowing only a walk to Chipper Jones.

The penultimate Padres position player pitching was The Bachelor, Sean Burroughs. The former little league ace got the call for the eighth inning of a game on the moon, down 17-1 to the Rockies. He allowed two singles and a three run shot to notorious plate-misser Matt Holliday to bring it to the final score of 20-1 before getting out of the inning.

The most recent time, the one I imagine most people remember, was June 7, 2009. In the only non-blowout of the bunch, infielder Josh Wilson was brought in to pitch the bottom of the eighteenth inning of a 6-6 tie against Arizona. The tenth pitcher used by Bud Black, Wilson gave up four hits in the process of getting three outs, including a three-run homer to Mark Reynolds to bring it to the final score of 9-6. Oddly, Wilson pitched less than four weeks earlier as a member of the Diamondbacks before being picked up on waivers by San Diego.

I thought there would have been more but ten times over 44 seasons isn't that low of a total, all things considered. A lot of factors go into play; including having the right player to put out there, a manager willing to do so, and a game out of hand enough to necessitate it. Once every four or so years or so on average makes it rare enough to be exciting but common enough that every fan is apt to see it at least once. Fingers crossed, maybe we'll see Chris Denorfia trying to work the corners this year.