Catcher Bethancourt wows with fastball, eephus

May 31st, 2016

SEATTLE -- Christian Bethancourt's pitching debut for the Padres was semi-effective at best, but certainly memorable and obviously enjoyable.

Bethancourt, who began the game at catcher then moved to the outfield when the contest got out of hand, came on to pitch in the eighth inning Tuesday in San Diego's 16-4 loss to the Mariners at Safeco Park.

"It was definitely fun," said Bethancourt, who said he last pitched about 10 years ago when he was 14. "Something, I guess, a lot of position players want to do at some point, just to get out there and see how it feels. I've already experienced it and know it's not easy to throw strikes now."

Although his location was not exactly pinpoint, Bethancourt mixed speeds -- from 96 miles per hour down to 54 mph.

Despite an awkward delivery, or maybe because of it, Bethancourt hit 96 mph against the first hitter he faced, Stefen Romero, whom he retired on a flyout to right.

"I did watch the first pitch because I wanted to see. I wasn't trying to go crazy or anything," Bethancourt said. "They told me to just throw the ball down the middle, but obviously I was not going to throw all 70, 70, 70. I was going to put something on it just to see how it feels. I did look at the first one, and then I did look at a couple, and they were like 94, so I was like, 'You know, I got more here.' But then I reminded myself that they told me don't get crazy, and you've got to take care of your arm."

Bethancourt then walked Steve Clevenger on five pitches and retired Luis Sardinas on a flyout to left.

Norichika Aoki walked on a full count, including one off-speed something-or-other in the low '50s that bounced. He then hit Seth Smith in the foot on a 2-2 pitch that Bethancourt said afterward was a slider.

Rather than risk Bethancourt hurting his arm, Padres manager Andy Green made another pitching change, bringing in shortstop Alexi Amarista for the final out. Bethancourt completed his four-position day at second base, becoming the fifth player since 1913 to appear as a pitcher, catcher, left fielder and second baseman in one game.

"I had another batter in there, but that's his decision, Bethancourt joked afterward. "Thanks to Amarista, my ERA is still zero."

The Mariners rocked starter James Shields for 10 runs in 2 1/3 innings, then added on in a five-homer game to push the lead to 16-0 after five innings.

San Diego cut the lead to 16-4, but in the eighth inning, Green turned to Bethancourt with no idea what to expect other than saving an inning for his bullpen.

"I had no clue what we were going to see when he was out there," Green said. "I just knew it was going to be hard. It's a live arm, I think everybody knows that. It's not that easy to throw 96 miles per hour. There's just not many people that aren't pitching here that can just grab a ball and do that."

Smith said Bethancourt's velocity immediately caught the Mariners' attention.

"Those are always interesting," said Smith, who homered twice. "Any time you face a position player, it's kind of a lose-lose situation, so you're just trying to kind of take it as seriously you can. You don't want to give away any at-bats, but they got him at 96, so it was less fun than some of the other position players."

Green said Bethancourt's pitching performance brought a bit of levity to a long game and a two-game series in which the Padres were outscored 25-7 in a pair of losing efforts.

"You want to flush a game like this and leave it behind." Green said. "But, it's OK to smile and laugh, too. You can't live in a morgue. It's a tough game. These guys enjoyed watching Christian pitch, I think mostly people probably did. It was fun for us to watch him pitch today. You definitely don't want to be in that situation, but I think he brought some fire to the game."