SAN DIEGO -- When Christian Bethancourt, the Padres' backup catcher, began warming in the bullpen during Monday's 13-4 loss, Marlins left fielder Chris Johnson -- stationed at his position only a few steps away -- took a glance at his former teammate, perhaps scouting for his at-bat in the ninth
SAN DIEGO -- When Christian Bethancourt, the Padres' backup catcher, began warming in the bullpen during Monday's 13-4 loss, Marlins left fielder Chris Johnson -- stationed at his position only a few steps away -- took a glance at his former teammate, perhaps scouting for his at-bat in the ninth inning.
Bethancourt noticed Johnson peeking, and warned him to expect the heat when his turn came up.
• Bethancourt has video game arsenal, follows 49-mph pitch with 94-mph heater
Sure enough, Bethancourt took the mound a few minutes later, and he uncorked a 49-mph pitch (we'll call it a slowball), one of the softest pitches this season.
"I was kind of playing around," Bethancourt said. "I played with CJ for two years, and I told him I was going to challenge him with all fastballs. So I just wanted to throw that one out there to start."
Sure enough, after that first pitch -- Bethancourt came back with two more fastballs to Johnson, who spent 2013 and '14 playing alongside Bethancourt in Atlanta. The second fastball hit 94 on the radar gun, and Johnson flied harmlessly to center.
It marked the second time this season the Padres have called upon Bethancourt for mopup duty. He also threw two-thirds of a frame in Seattle on May 31 -- where he loaded the bases before second baseman Alexi Amarista recorded the final out.
This time, Bethancourt again ran into some two-out trouble, but he managed to escape by getting Derek Dietrich to pop out to center field. He allowed a walk and a single, but maintained his 0.00 ERA.
Bethancourt threw 18 pitches -- 10 of which exceeded 90 mph. He hit 94 on three separate occasions, while throwing exclusively fastballs from his not-so-fluid windup.
"It's a live arm, still with relatively zero pitching mechanics -- so just the arm whipping through the zone," said Padres manager Andy Green. "Not many people can stand up there and throw 95 like they're on a speed pitch at a carnival, but he does it pretty easily."
Who knows? If Bethancourt had honed his mechanics at a younger age, he could've made a solid big league hurler.
Thing is, Bethancourt had a strong anti-pitching stance as a child.
"When I was younger, I didn't like pitching," Bethancourt said. "I know I can throw hard, but I just don't like pitching, because eventually you're going to give up homers and all that. I'm a very competitive guy, so I didn't want that feeling when I was little.
"Now, it's different. Now I'm just out there having fun, and, of course, helping the team. They need me in that situation, because they don't want to use any more pitchers."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.