30-year-old Minor League veteran Clint Robinson became first Nats position player ever to pitch
There is little more enjoyable in life than a position player pitching. It takes the sting out of a loss, gives a reason to watch until the very end of a blowout and, like watching the bloopers at the end of a movie, gives the viewer a sense of having witnessed something that was never meant for at-home consumption.
So, it was a little strange that coming into Tuesday night, the Washington Nationals were the only team in the Majors who had yet to grace their fans with a position player on the mound. Especially considering a record 21 position players got to show off their batting practice fastballs in 2014.
Fortunately, Nationals manager Matt Williams put a stop to that streak. Trailing 14-4 in the bottom of the eighth inning against the D-backs, Williams called upon none other than Minor League veteran Clint Robinson.
The outfielder's career is a strange one: Despite a .302/.381/.510 Minor League batting line, Robinson had only picked up 14 Major League plate appearances before making the Nationals Opening Day roster. While he's still waiting for his first big league home run, Robinson can now add a relief appearance to his resume.
Mixing an 81-mph "fastball" and 72-mph "slider," Robinson pitched a scoreless frame, giving up only one hit, even managing to strike out Aaron Hill. Like they say, it's about command, not velocity:
As for the last time the Nationals had a fielder on the mound, you'd have to go all the way back to July 20, 1990, when the Expos called on one. Naturally, the team used two that night, with center fielder Dave Martinez and shortstop/third baseman Junior Noboa combining to pitch the ninth inning while giving up two runs in a 12-6 loss to the Astros.
Even stranger though, there is one other team with a longer waiting list: their division rival Atlanta Braves. The last position player to take the field for Atlanta was on June 25, 1989 when John Russell took the hill. Oddly enough, that also resulted in a 12-6 loss to the Astros.