On the bounce! Ahmed doubles cricket-style

April 19th, 2023

ST. LOUIS -- Judging by his fourth-inning double Tuesday night in the D-backs' 8-7 win over the Cardinals, could have been one heck of a cricket player.

With the bases loaded and the D-backs shortstop facing a 2-2 count, left-hander Jordan Montgomery threw a curveball that bounced before it reached home plate.

That didn’t bother Ahmed, who hit the ball after it bounced into short left field for a two-run double as part of a six-run inning that erased a one-run deficit and gave the D-backs a 7-2 lead.

“I’ve played a lot of baseball,” Ahmed said with a smile. “I'm thinking about trying out for cricket next year. You know, I got down to two strikes and I was trying to put a ball in play and score a run, and I saw the curveball and it just kept breaking a lot more than I thought it was, but I was just determined to get that thing put in play. Thankful it dropped in for a hit there.”

The hit continued what’s been an excellent start to the season for Ahmed, who came into the game hitting .324 while playing his usual Gold Glove-caliber defense at shortstop.

Ahmed joins a list of players that include Corey Dickerson and Vladimir Guerrero Sr., who was known to knock a hit off the ground during his Hall of Fame career. Guerrero chimed in on Twitter: "I’ve seen this before 😂"

Guerrero wasn’t the only one who had seen it happen before.

Ahmed’s manager, Torey Lovullo, played in Japan in 2000 after his big league career was over and in an exhibition game that year, Lovullo saw Ichiro Suzuki hit a ball that had bounced.

“I thought that was the greatest thing I've ever seen,” Lovullo said of his reaction at the time. “I told my interpreter to go get two baseballs and send them over there [to get signed] because that guy is going to be the greatest hitter of all time.”

Ahmed's double left Montgomery shaking his head.

“I mean, I can't throw a better [curveball] than that. It might have bounced in front of the plate, but that’s just kind of the way the whole night went. That's baseball for you, and it’s going to be like that some days. It's going to happen, but that's why I’ve got 28 more starts [this season].”

Ahmed was asked if he had ever hit a bounced ball before.

“Not even close,” Ahmed said. “And, hopefully, never again. Hopefully, I’m not swinging at any balls that bounce again and that’s the last one.”

Cardinals catcher Willson Contreras said he saw his former Cubs teammate Javier Báez hit a bounced ball once, but he too was stunned by what he saw Tuesday.

“To be honest, I don't know how he hit that,” Contreras said. “He was probably looking down [in the strike zone], but that was way far down and that was just luck.”

Ahmed said he’d never played cricket before and he was not part of the 2014 D-backs team that opened the regular season with a pair of games against the Dodgers in Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The closest he came to cricket, Ahmed said, was when he broke his right wrist in 2017. In an effort to protect the wrist, New Balance sent him a glove worn by cricket players.

While the glove was too big to use, Ahmed showed Tuesday that he doesn’t need the proper equipment to play cricket.