Putting a position player in to pitch is usually a last resort move for a manager, but desperate times call for desperate managers.
The Milwaukee Brewers got what they couldn’t afford Wednesday afternoon — a short outing from starting pitcher Matt Garza. Two straight extra-inning games left an already taxed bullpen out of options.
Down 9-3 in the eighth inning, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke turned to backup catcher Martin Maldonado to get three outs. Topping out at 86 mph, Maldonado allowed just one hit and tossed a scoreless inning in Milwaukee’s loss to St. Louis.
Maldonado became the ninth different position player in franchise history to pitch and the first since Joe Inglett worked a perfect ninth inning in a 12-4 loss to Cincinnati on July 27, 2010.
After allowing a leadoff single to Allen Craig, Maldonado got Jhonny Peralta to line out to third baseman Jeff Bianchi. Greg Garcia followed with a sharp grounder to Bianchi who threw to second to get the second out on a force out.
Maldonado kept his ERA at 0.00 by getting Tony Cruz to line out to Bianchi at third for the final out of the inning. He threw a total of 14 pitches and nine for strikes, averaging 74.4 mph.
Three position players have now pitched for major-league teams this season. Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Mike Carp walked five and allowed a run against the Yankees on Apr. 24, while White Sox infielder Leury Garcia gave up two runs in his inning against the Red Sox on Apr. 16.
The first time Milwaukee used position players to pitch occurred on Aug. 29, 1979, when manager George Bamberger used Sal Bando, Jim Gantner and Buck Martinez in an 18-8 loss to Kansas City. Bando allowed two earned runs in three innings, Gantner tossed a scoreless frame and Martinez allowed one run in his inning.
On that night, starter Jim Slaton allowed five earned runs and didn’t make it out of the first inning. Relievers Reggie Cleveland and Paul Mitchell combined to allow 10 more runs, and the Brewers were down 17-4 in the fifth inning.
Terry Francona was the next position player to pitch for the Brewers, appearing in a 12-2 loss to Oakland on May 15, 1989. The current manager of the Cleveland Indians worked a scoreless eighth inning and struck out Athletics outfielder Stan Javier looking.
Two years later, Rick Dempsey pitched in two games for the Brewers in a month’s time. His first appearance on the mound came in a 14-4 loss to Boston on July 2, 1991, as Dempsey allowed one run on three hits in the ninth inning.
Dempsey got in Milwaukee’s 14-5 loss to Texas on Aug. 3, 1991, lowering his ERA to 4.50 with a scoreless ninth inning.
It took 10 years for the next position player to take the mound for the Brewers, as Mark Loretta pitched the eighth inning of Milwaukee’s 11-3 loss in Cincinnati on June 20, 2001. Loretta allowed a hit and a walk but didn’t give up a run, striking out Reds reliever Chris Nichting and outfielder Ruben Rivera.
Trent Durrington got one out in a 14-5 loss in Houston on Apr. 17, 2004, taking over after reliever Luis Vizcaino gave up four runs while recording just two outs. Durrington got Astros second baseman Jose Vizcaino to fly out to Brady Clark in right field to end the inning.
Inglett’s chance to pitch came on July 27, 2010 in a 12-4 loss to Cincinnati at Miller Park. Yovani Gallardo was tagged for six runs in 2 2/3 innings, while Chris Capuano gave up four earned runs in three innings of relief.
After using David Riske and Trevor Hoffman, manager Ken Macha turned to Inglett.
The utility infielder needed just six pitches — none reportedly over 56 mph — to retire Brandon Phillips, Orlando Cabrera and Joey Votto.