Astros’ Sipp plays right field between mowing down D-backs lefties

Astros relief pitcher Tony Sipp runs in from from right field to pitch after he was moved to right field for Jerome Williams (not pictured) to face one batter in the eighth inning Monday against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field.

Joe Camporeale

PHOENIX — Left-hander Tony Sipp had appearance bonuses written into his contract with Houston this season. He must have seen Monday coming.

Sipp might have added a little pocket money with his work in the Astros’ 4-3 victory over Arizona at Chase Field.

Specialist Sipp appeared twice.

A former Diamondbacks reliever, Sipp  retired all three left-handed hitters he faced in the seventh inning before getting Gerardo Parra to start the eighth. That is when things got weird.

Houston manager Bo Porter brought in right-hander Jerome Williams to face Paul Goldschmidt. But with lefty Miguel Montero on deck, Porter did not want to lose the matchup advantage so he sent Sipp to right field. 

After Williams walked Goldschmidt, Sipp returned to strike out Montero.

After going 5-for-5 against lefties, his work was done.

"I thought those days were behind me," said Sipp, who played center field and pitched at Clemson.

"I thought I would just pitch around Goldschmidt. I never thought I would go out and play the field and come back. (Porter) joked about it my first day I signed with the Astros, but I thought it was just a joke."

No joke.

Sipp had his outfield glove on the bench before the inning, and not only changed positions but changed gloves when he made the switch.

"I’ve watched him shag fly balls. He is a power shagger," Porter said. "We’re completely comfortable putting him out in the outfield."

Sipp will receive $25,000 each for reaching 35, 40, 45 and 50 appearances. He is to receive $50,000 each if he makes 55 and 60.

He is at 13 now.

Or it is 14?

No one seems to know. The official statistics listed him with 12 appearances entering the game.

The postgame stats had him at 15.

"Put a little asterisk by it," Sipp said.

Sipp, acquired by the Diamondbacks in the three-way Trevor Bauer deal before last season, knew full well 2013 NL MVP runner-up Goldschmidt was capable of driving the ball his way.

"I’ve seen him go that way plenty of times," Sipp said. "He hits it that way like a lefty would pull it. You have to be focused out there. I think I had more focus in right field than on the mound. I don’t think it’s something you can prepare for, but you know every out is a big out."

When he returned to the mound, he did not want to have to blame his right fielder for making things worse.

"If I misplay a ball, I put myself in a worse situation, because I have to come back and face Montero," Sipp said. "I told Dexter (Fowler in center field), if I have to dive for a ball, back me up. He joked, ‘You better not dive.’ I was fully prepared to dive."

Fellow left-handed reliever Darin Downs was unavailable, Porter said, adding that he wanted to save his third lefty, Rudy Owens, in case the game went into extra innings.

"It was a good play unless ‘Goldy’ hit one to him," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. "I have seen it done before. He’s going to manage his team the way he want to manage it. It worked out for him."

Sipp lowered his ERA to 2.70 in 1-2/3 innings of work. His fielding percentage remained 1.000.

"It was a little awkward," Sipp said. "I never thought I could say I had an out (in the field) in the big leagues, especially being that close of a game.

"I don’t think I had time to be nervous."

Winning pitcher Jarred Cosart was impressed by both Sipp and Porter.

"I don’t know how Bo does it." Cosart said. "It is stressful on us to watch. It just shows managers have a whole lot more going on that what people think.

"They just don’t sit on the bench and watch the game and sit there with a cup of coffee."

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