Tyler Ladendorf backs up 'utility man' status by pitching the eighth for the A's
The value of a utility man to a Major League baseball team is tied entirely to that first word, "utility."
Tyler Ladendorf is on the A's roster as a result of his ability to play multiple positions. He's logged a lot of time in the Minors at second base, third base, and the outfield throughout his career, which can be useful quite often throughout a season ... including during Friday night's loss to the Astros.
With Oakland trailing 12-2 in the eighth, Ladendorf took the mound at Minute Maid Park in order to spare the A's from having to use another pitcher on the night. Oakland had called up reliever J.B. Wendelken from Triple-A Nashville, but travel issues delayed his arrival and facilitated Ladendorf's appearance:
Wendelken isn't even here because of flight issues. So that's why they had to not only use Ladendorf but Axford in that game.— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) June 4, 2016
There's where that value comes into play. He may not have struck anybody out -- as teammate/catcher Josh Phegley did when he pitched in a game a few weeks back, fanning Adam Jones -- but Ladendorf also didn't give up a bunch of runs, either.
Several of Ladendorf's pitches registered as changeups. They were all fastballs.— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) June 4, 2016
Ladendorf explained a bit about his (lack of) pitching experience when speaking with MLB.com's Jane Lee after the game:
"Little bit in high school, when everybody still pitches. Never really in pro ball. [The] 2004 [season] was probably the last time I really even stepped on a mound. It's been a while, but it was fun."
He also said he received some advice from A's starter Kendall Graveman in terms of what to expect on the mound, adding that he wasn't really trying to get fancy out there on the bump:
"Not really. I'm not one of those guys who messes around with a knuckleball or anything. I was just kind of winging it out there."
In terms of his versatility, Ladendorf's clean inning of work was the pitching equivalent of plays like this:
Saving the bullpen, erasing would-be base hits with stellar defensive plays ... he's a pretty good example of the quintessential utility man.