Choate reaches first base for the first time
NEW YORK -- Fifteen text messages were awaiting Randy Choate when he returned to the clubhouse following the Cardinals' 10-2 win over the Mets on Tuesday, including a screen shot of himself sent from his 10-year-old daughter.
Of all the images she's captured of dad, this was a new one.
With an eight-run lead and little interest in using another position player, manager Mike Matheny sent Choate to bat for himself in the eighth. Choate, whose last plate appearance came in 2004, scurried to find the necessary equipment -- borrowing a bat from Michael Wacha and batting gloves from Randal Grichuk, and deploying one of the athletic trainers to find his helmet.
The 39-year-old lefty specialist admitted some trepidation about standing in the batters' box -- "I don't want to get hit" -- and intended to let the bat rest on his shoulder until he had two strikes on him. The count ran full, but rather than swing, Choate drew a walk.
"If you look at the video of how far I'm standing off the plate, I probably can't touch a ball anyway," Choate said afterward.
He took his spot at first base, having never been there in his 15-year career. He was 0-for-5 previously with three strikeouts and surmised that his last hit was the bases-loaded double he knocked as a 15-year-old Little League All-Star. He omitted the one Minor League single he tallied in 2004.
"By the time we got off the field, he was already talking about hitting batting practice with the starters," Matheny quipped.
Choate did yell out, "Patience is a virtue," upon returning to the dugout, which generated plenty of laughs. Postgame, he jokingly went in pursuit of the lineup card to take home as a memento, while teammate Matt Belisle walked around calling him "very hitterish."
It was all part of a light moment that personified the loose postgame clubhouse, the result of finally playing a game that wasn't so tight at the end.
"I was just trying to make people laugh," Choate said. "If I really swing there, probably I'm going to swing through and miss. It's not like I'm going to hit the ball. I got lucky that he missed with his spots and I got on base.
"To finally get on base in the big leagues is nice -- even if it is a walk."