Now pitching: Jason Lane

Feb. 21, 2012

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Between Cy Young contender Ian Kennedy,

42-year-old reliever Takashi Saito and top prospects like Trevor Bauer

and Tyler Skaggs, the Diamondbacks have plenty of pitching stories to

follow in spring camp.

The most interesting, however, might just

be that of Jason Lane, a pitcher turned outfielder turned pitcher again

now trying to catch on with the D-backs as a non-roster invitee.


35, was drafted by the Houston Astros after pitching at Southern

California. But the Astros decided his bat was his best asset and

converted him to first base. In 2005, playing outfield, delivered 26

home runs and 78 RBI for the astros while hitting .267.

Lane hit

15 homers the next season, but consistency was an issue and he hasn’t

appeared in the majors since 2007. After bouncing around the minors,

Lane found himself last season with the Toronto Bluejays’ Triple-A

affiliate Las Vegas 51s — as an outfielder. When the 51s found

themselves short on pitchers late in games, Lane offered his services.


offered to do it and had a little bit of success at it, so they used me

a little more often,” Lane said. “Now I’ve got this opportunity (with

the D-backs). It just sort of worked itself out.”

The return to

pitching was in no way planned. It just sort of happened. Lane totaled

13 innings in six appearances for the 51s and says pitching is like

riding a bike. You don’t forget how to do it.

“I was pretty

comfortable out there pretty quick,” Lane said. “It came back to me. I

can always throw strikes. I pitched a lot as a younger player, all the

way through college, so it wasn’t totally foreign to me.”


intricacies like command and velocity didn’t come back quite as easily,

and Lane said the biggest challenge has been conditioning. This is his

first professional offseason as a pitcher, so he’s adjusting to the

changes in his workout routine, like throwing every day.

In camp on Tuesday, Lane threw his first major league bullpen session.

enough, he did so just after top prospect Trevor Bauer, the D-backs’

21-year-old first-round pick from the 2011 draft, threw his first.


knows his story is unusual, particularly because of his age. (Sergio

Santos, a former first-round draft choice of the Diamondbacks as a

shortstop, made the conversion to relief pitching three years ago, at

age 26, and is now the closer for the Toronto Blue Jays.) Not many

outfielders make the move to the mound after 30, but there are some


“My arm is somewhat fresh, and I’ve taken care of

it,” he said. “I don’t have the wear and tear like a 35-year-old pitcher

would have.”

Lane said he hasn’t concerned himself with the

logistics of the D-backs’ roster and his chances of sticking in the

majors. His first priority is just trying to show the D-backs he can

contribute as a pitcher.

“I haven’t even looked at that side of

it yet,” Lane said. “Obviously my goal is to get to the big leagues and

help this team win. So I just try to take care of what I can do and work

on what I can bring to the team.”

— Tyler Lockman