Position Players Pitching! Rizzo fans Freeman
Anthony Rizzo striking out Freddie Freeman has become the talk of social media. Did you know that Rizzo, in high school, actually pitched? MO2 lists some other position players from Florida who we’d like to see on the mound.
By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd
Position player pitching alert! Or, how about #RakersWhoPitch hashtags?
Social media was going berserk on Wednesday night when Cubs first baseman/relief pitcher Anthony Rizzo (joking about the reliever part) struck out reigning N.L. MVP, Freddie Freeman.
The light-hearted moment was pure baseball magic, and created a memorable moment in an otherwise, 10-0 Braves’ beatdown of the Cubs at Truist Park.
To help save the bullpen, the Cubs asked their everyday first baseman, the left-handed throwing Rizzo, to pitch. In a left-on-left showdown, Rizzo got the last laugh by striking out Freeman.
The playful reactions of both players reminded us there is a softer side to an often intensely-played sport.
“I couldn’t stop laughing as I was going up to the plate,” Freeman said postgame. “It’s a recipe for disaster.”
Rizzo is a South Florida native, who actually did some pitching in his prep days at Stoneman Douglas High School.
According to his old Perfect Game profile, at a national showcase in 2006, Rizzo had an 84 mph fastball. That was as a teenager who was listed as a first baseman and lefty pitcher.
Asking position players to pitch has long been a last resort for clubs trying to avoid taxing more relievers in lopsided games.
The most memorable position player I’ve ever covered who pitched is future Hall of Fame outfielder, Ichiro Suzuki. It came on closing day in 2015. At Philadelphia, Ichiro took the mound for the first, and only, time in his storied MLB career. I wrote about it then for MLB.com.
For the most part, it’s rare. But Rizzo wasn’t the only position player asked to pitch in mop up duty Wednesday. Asdrubal Cabrera of the D-backs logged two outs in the ninth inning in a 12-3 loss to the Padres at Chase Field.
Watching players out of their element certainly has entertainment value.
MO2 did some research on which position players, with Florida ties, that we’d like to see toeing the rubber.
Miami native Manny Machado of the Padres has a cannon for an arm. The veteran third baseman, and former shortstop, threw 89 mph at a 2009 Perfect Game showcase.
And Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson, from Coral Springs, Fla., showed off a strong arm with an outfield assist on Wednesday at Milwaukee. Per Statcast, Brinson’s throw from left field to home plate was 95.5 mph.
How about Brinson being Miami’s emergency pitcher?
At a Perfect Game event in 2012, when Brinson was in high school, his fastball was clocked at 85 mph, which at the time was in the 96.96 percentile.