Adam Dunn's adventure on the mound was the pinnacle of position-player pitching
The year was 2014. Position-player pitching was still in its infancy, a far cry from the record highs in 2018. Little did we know that this delightful art was about to peak -- in sheer entertainment value, at least.
Four years ago on Sunday, the White Sox called on slugger Adam Dunn to throw the final inning of a 16-0 loss to the Rangers. He had never pitched in the Majors before -- in fact, he had more career home runs than anyone in MLB history at the time of his first pitching appearance (457, just one more than Jimmie Foxx when Foxx took the mound on Aug. 6, 1939).
Dunn was in his final season and he wanted to check off one more box on the resume before calling it quits. He had pitched when he was much younger at New Caney High School in Texas, and he had been pushing manager Robin Ventura to give him a shot. Ultimately, the skipper acquiesced in this blowout.
Facing his first batter, Elvis Andrus, Dunn was -- shall we say -- a little rusty:
Dunn and Andrus laughed it off, and Dunn eventually got him to bounce out to second:
Dunn's teammates had a hoot at his outing. "I haven't laughed on a baseball field like that in a long time, ever since I was probably kicking dandelions, in my early teens," center fielder Adam Eaton told MLB.com's Scott Merkin. "He had good sink, that's all I can say. He was 80 mph but he had really good sink."
Some of that good sink was on display when Dunn lobbed an 80-mph pitch in to Rougned Odor, who flew out to end the inning:
The Rangers scratched out a run against Dunn through an infield single, a walk and an RBI single by Adam Rosales, but it was a bizarre experience.
"Your adrenaline is at zero and you're just trying to be as locked in as possible," said Rangers DH J.P. Arencibia. "And you look up there and there's Adam Dunn, you know? A guy that I've watched my whole life growing up, hitting homers and looking up to ... and now I'm facing him."
Adrian Beltre had an even simpler comment on the situation. "If he hit somebody, we can't charge the mound because he's too big."
It's true. Big men can hit big homers ...
... but as it turns out, they can also help out in a pinch on the mound.