Position player Decker pitches in vs. Reds
Outfielder notches scoreless eighth inning in debut on mound
CINCINNATI -- Five pitchers worked for the Pirates on Thursday night. Only two avoided being scored upon by the Reds in their 15-5 win: Arquimedes Caminero, who made one pitch to get the final out of the seventh, and Jaff Decker, who worked a scoreless eighth.
Wait. Decker? Didn't he used to be an outfielder?
Yes, and he still is. But on a forgettable night for the Bucs, the former prep pitcher had an unforgettable experience.
"I had fun with it," Decker said. "When they told me I'd have the opportunity, I was pretty excited. I wish the opportunity wasn't there, but … it was cool."
A good enough hurler for Sunrise Mountain High School in Peoria, Ariz., for some teams to consider drafting him as a pitcher, Decker had not toed the rubber since a high school state championship game in 2008.
Manager Clint Hurdle told him he'd get his chance while sending him up in the top of the eighth to pinch-hit for Caminero.
"I'm at bat, trying obviously to get a hit, but all I could think about was pitching," said Decker, who wound up grounding out to short.
When he warmed up on the hill, he could see Joey Votto on deck, and the rest of the meat of the Reds' batting order lined up. Decker was about to become the first Pittsburgh position player to pitch since Travis Snider took a turn on June 18, 2014, against the Reds -- and struck out Votto.
Decker jumped ahead of Votto, 0-2, and it was not a pretty sight.
"I think he was thinking [about that strikeout by Snider], because he was talking to himself a bit," Decker said. "It was pretty cool facing him, and Jay Bruce and Marlon Byrd. I've seen those guys destroy a lot of guys."
They tried it on Decker, too. But after Votto led off with a single and stopped at third on Byrd's double, an amazing thing happened: Neither scored, as Decker went through Bruce, Eugenio Suarez and Tucker Barnhart without damage.
The proof will be in his line in the Baseball Encyclopedia: 0.00 ERA.
"I won't forget this," Decker said. "Having that, won't let me forget it."