Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Cubs Fact: Last Position Players to Pitch

Recently, Nick Swisher of the Yankees took the mound for an inning in a game that saw the Yankees getting blown out. That got me wondering about when the Cubs used position players on the mound. Here is what I found:

Since 1960, the Cubs have used four different position players to pitch. I'll start with the most recent.

Gary Gaetti took the mound for the Cubs in the 8th inning on July 3, 1999. The Cubs were getting trounced by the Phillies as starter Kyle Farnsworth lasted only 1/3 of an inning and gave up 8 runs. By the time the Phillies batted in the bottom of the eighth the score was 19-8. Gaetti has pitched twice for the Cardinals, so he was brought in to pitch the last inning and save the bullpen from a little more work. He gave two runs but did stike out one hitter.

Upper Deck 1991

Outfielder Doug Dascenzo made four pitching appearances for the Cubs in 1990 and 1991. What does it tell you about a team's pitching staff when an outfielder is needed four times in two years? Little Dougie actually did a decent job in his four outings, never giving up a run.

Score 1991 shows Dascenzo pitching!

His first appearance was on June 12, 1990 when the Mets blew out the Cubs 19-8. He faced only three hitters, getting a double play after the second batter had singled. He took the hill three times in a three week span in June/July 1991, each time coming in as the Cubs were getting trounced. His best game was on June 10, 1991 when he actually went for two innings and faced the minimum of six batters, although he needed a double play to erase a walk.

Outfielder/First baseman Larry Biittner pitched one game for the Cubs in 1977. In game 1 of a July 4 doubleheader, the Expos were creaming the Cubs and I'm sure manager Herman Franks wanted to save the bullpen for game 2, so Biittner got the call to pitch the ninth. The good news is that he got two strikeouts. The bad news is that he gave up 5 runs including homeruns to Ellis Valentine and Andre Dawson. His career ERA is a whopping 40.50!

Topps 1977

Outfielder Willie Smith pitched once for the Cubs in 1968. He should have an asterisk by his name, because he was originally signed as a pitcher and later converted to the outfield. His one appearance was against the Giants on August 27 and he recorded a 1-2-3 inning. Willie actually pitched a total of 61 innings in the majors and had a decent 3.10 career ERA.

Topps 1969

The back of Willies 1969 card talks about his earlier pitching career.

Its been 10 years now since the Cubs have had to have a position player pitch. I hope I don't see one take the mound this year!

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