Despite taking loss, Garcia savors pitching experience
CHICAGO --- With the game nearing its fifth hour Wednesday night, the White Sox were running out of options. They had already used all seven relievers through 13 innings.
It was either time to turn to a starter, or call upon a position player to pitch the 14th inning, which isn't all that unusual for marathon games.
No, what's unusual is the player they picked had never pitched an inning in his life. Not in the Minors. Not in high school. Not even as a kid messing around with his buddies at a random field.
Leury Garcia, a utility infielder, came out to start the 14th inning of the Red Sox's 6-4 victory at U.S. Cellular Field. He took the loss by allowing a two-run double to Jackie Bradley Jr. and his career ERA is now 18.00, but it's an experience he'll never forget.
"Great," Garcia said of pitching. "The first time in my career, so that was awesome."
Garcia performed beyond expectations in many ways, consistently reaching 88 mph on the radar gun while showing the ability to change speeds and move the ball. Even eight-year veteran John Danks was impressed.
"He's got good stuff. I want him to teach me a sinker like that," said Danks, who was in line for the win before the bullpen struggled. "He's got a pretty good sinker. Surely it's weird to be out there for the first time. I can only imagine having to play second base for the first time. It's like a fish out of water, but I felt like he held his own. And like I said, I want him to teach me that sinker."
Garcia started off the inning well, inducing Grady Sizemore to ground out sharply to Jose Abreu and A.J. Pierzynski to fly out to right. Garcia lost control after that, walking Daniel Nava and Jonathan Herrera on a combined 11 pitches, drawing a mound visit from manager Robin Ventura.
"I have a little experience doing that," said Ventura, who threw a scoreless inning for the Dodgers in 2004, the only career pitching appearance for the six-time Gold Glove third baseman. "I said, 'If you are going to do anything, throw it slower. Don't try and overthrow it.' They ended up scoring."
In the end, Bradley's double decided the game, but Garcia did OK for someone that had never pitched at any level in his life. He didn't even take warmup pitches in the bullpen beforehand, but said his arm felt fine afterward.
So after icing it down, is he ready to go for the next game?
"No," Garcia said while sporting a huge grin. "I'm good."