Cubs manager Joe Maddon stunned the ESPN television crew and baseball fans all over the country by bringing in left-handed reliever Travis Wood against the Seattle Mariners to get three outs in the sixth inning, putting him in left field for the seventh and the first two outs of the eighth, and bringing him back to the mound for the final out of the eighth inning. It was quite an adventure for Wood, who made a fantastic catch in the ivy during his stint in the outfield. It’s just one of the crazy things we’ll likely see before the regular season draws to a close, but it certainly was entertaining. Let’s look back at a few of the other time that MLB pitchers played in the outfield.
1. Travis Wood, Pedro Strop, Spencer Patton
This wasn’t the first time this year that Maddon got a little crazy with his MLB pitchers. In an extra inning game against the Cincinnati Reds on June 28, Maddon used three — yes, three — different relief pitchers in left field at one point in the game. No one was ever forced to make a play on a ball, but the Cubs pulled off a win in the 15th inning and everything worked out in the end.
2. Shelby Miller
Also earlier this season on April 25, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Pittsburgh Pirates got into an extra-inning game that required the use of several pitchers by the D-backs. Shelby Miller got into the ballgame in left field, and even had to make a play on a ball hit off the wall by Sean Rodriguez. Overall, he did well in his time in left, but unfortunately Arizona lost the game by a score of 12-10. Even worse? Miller struck out to end the game while representing the tying run.
3. Wesley Wright
The Houston Astros actually utilized left-handed reliever Wesley Wright in the outfield twice during his stint with the team. The first such occasion, on August 23, 2011, saw him come into a ballgame against the Colorado Rockies to get two outs. Then he moved to right field while right-handed reliever David Carpenter came in to get the final out. The next season, on July 27, 2012, a similar situation saw Wright retiring the first batter assigned to him, moving out to right field again for one batter, and then returning to the mound to pitch again.
4. Roy Oswalt
On August 24, 2010, in an extra-inning game against the Houston Astros, the Philadelphia Phillies were forced to put former-Astros starting pitcher in left field after first baseman Ryan Howard was ejected from the game in the 14th inning for arguing balls and strikes. Oswalt ended up playing two solid innings in the field, catching a routine fly ball, and helping the Phillies to a 3-2 victory in 16 innings.
5. Sean Marshall
On the final day before the All-Star break in 2009, the Chicago Cubs faced the St. Louis Cardinals in a double-header. The Cubs took the first game and were desperately trying to stay close in the second game, trailing 4-2 in the eighth inning. Manager Lou Piniella brought left-hander Sean Marshall on with two on, nobody out to face Nick Stavinoha. Marshall walked the batter, then got sent to left field for pitcher Aaron Heilman. The new reliever struck out Brendan Ryan, and then exited the game with Marshall returning to the mound to get the final two outs.
6. Chuck McElroy
On August 8, 1999, the Los Angeles Dodgers took part in a blowout against the New York Mets. Mets starter Steve Reed wasn’t able to make it out of the second inning, taxing the bullpen in a 14-3 defeat. Reliever Chuck McElroy pitched the eighth inning, but wanting to save the bullpen in an extra inning of work, manager Bobby Valentine decided to use outfielder Matt Franco to pitch the final frame. To make it even more fun? He moved McElroy out to left field to make it work. The Mets lost the game, but the pitcher made a nice running grab that will like end up being a career highlight.
7. Jeff Nelson
Back when he was with the Seattle Mariners back in July 1993, Piniella brought in left-handed reliever Jeff Nelson in a game against the Boston Red Sox. Nelson got the first two batters of the eighth inning before giving up a two-out single. In what is starting to seem routine on this list, Piniella moved Nelson to left field and brought in Dennis Powell to get one out, finishing off the eighth inning. Nelson came back out in the ninth, getting the first two batters before an error forced Piniella to go to Mike Hampton for the final out of the game.
8. Randy Johnson
The most fun instance on the list has to be the time Piniella put Hall of Fame left-hander Randy Johnson in the outfield. Yet again in 1993, on October 3, Piniella thought it would be fun to let his ace come into the final game of the season and play a little outfield. He only got an inning of work, and no balls were hit to him, but at least Johnson gets to add to the many accomplishments of his career that he once played opposite Ken Griffey Jr. in the outfield.
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