LOS ANGELES -- Jordan Schafer the outfielder will also be Jordan Schafer the pitcher when he tries to make the Dodgers as a non-roster invitee this spring. The club has not confirmed the signing.The Dodgers envision Schafer in a hybrid role as a defense-first center fielder and a left-handed reliever,
LOS ANGELES -- Jordan Schafer the outfielder will also be Jordan Schafer the pitcher when he tries to make the Dodgers as a non-roster invitee this spring. The club has not confirmed the signing.
The Dodgers envision Schafer in a hybrid role as a defense-first center fielder and a left-handed reliever, with the emphasis on pitching. He was a pitcher in high school but has not taken the mound in a professional game.
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Schafer earned $1.55 million last year and reportedly will receive $1 million this year if he makes the Major League roster.
Schafer, a free agent with five years of Major League experience in the outfield, was released by the Twins last June after returning from a right knee strain. He was Minnesota's starting center fielder on Opening Day last year and was originally drafted in the third round by Atlanta in 2005.
There have been a number of pitchers who converted to position players over the past 15 years, with Rick Ankiel and Brian Bogusevic being two of the more prominent ones. There have also been pitchers such as Micah Owings and Madison Bumgarner getting regular reps as pinch-hitters, though never playing the field. Switching from the field to the mound is more rare, though Jason Lane made the change in 2014, appearing in three games for the Padres seven years after his last big league appearance as an outfielder with San Diego.
The most recent example of a player signed with the intention of serving as a hybrid was Brooks Kieschnick. He was a two-way star at the University of Texas and was taken 10th overall in the 1993 Draft by the Cubs, who chose to use him as an outfielder. After bouncing around the Majors and Minors for a decade, the Brewers signed him before the 2003 season and used him as a right-handed reliever and left-handed hitting pinch-hitter.
Over the course of two seasons, Kieschnick hit .286/.340/.496 in 144 plate appearances and posted a 4.59 ERA with 67 strikeouts in 74 relief appearances (96 innings). He played in three games in the outfield in 2003 and became the first player in Major League history to hit home runs as a pitcher, designated hitter and pinch-hitter in the same season. He did not play the outfield in 2004 but did have 68 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter. He was released by Milwaukee during Spring Training in 2005.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com.