Now on the mound ... Yermín Mercedes?

April 19th, 2021

Nothing can stop the Yermín-ator. The breakout star for the White Sox has already had quite the eventful 2020, and we’re still in the season’s first month. After spending eight years in the Minor Leagues (minus one plate appearance for Chicago last season), started this season by getting hits in his first eight at-bats. Since then, he’s stayed hot and was leading the American League in batting average entering Monday’s Patriots’ Day matinee against the Red Sox.

Well, the longtime catcher -- who has only played as the designated hitter in the Major Leagues -- finally got to put on a glove and make his debut in the field. Except Mercedes didn’t take over first base or one of the outfield corners. Oh no, the slugger -- who went 1-for-4 on Monday -- went from DH to the pitcher’s mound. Eat your heart out, Shohei Ohtani.

While Mercedes had never thought he'd make his on-field debut as a pitcher, he has been on the mound before.

"A couple of times I pitched in independent ball and I just felt great with that," Mercedes said. "Nice and easy, don't do too much."

Oddly enough, the one game this year when Ohtani pitched and hit in the same game was against -- you guessed it -- Mercedes and the White Sox. And to add another strange wrinkle, Chicago has faced Nathan Eovaldi the last two times its DH came out to pitch.

While it was fun watching Mercedes out on the mound, Ohtani’s status as the best two-way player in the game is probably safe. With his cap given a decidedly Fernando Rodney-esque tilt, Mercedes threw a mix of mid-80s fastballs and low-70s junk en route to giving up three hits, two walks and a run in his lone inning of work. After Mercedes left, another position player in Danny Mendick relieved him, working around a hit batter and a single to hurl a scoreless eighth.

“It’s just another chapter in how amazing he is," White Sox manager Tony La Russa said after the game. "I asked him, I said ‘You know you're gonna pitch, you ready?' He said ‘Yeah, I got a fastball, breaking ball, changeup.’ So, I think the thing was we reminded him several times, look you just cannot air it out, you know, trying to overthrow and hurt yourself. So, I guarantee he's got more stuff that he showed that, but he got out of it, one run."

So, who knows. Maybe Mercedes does have another gear that he didn't show us all.

And as for the Rodney-esque cap tilt?

"It's like Dominican swag," Mercedes said. "All Dominican players use the hat like that. But I just used my hat like that because that's how I like using it."

While White Sox fans won’t be celebrating the 11-4 loss to Boston, they can cheer a record that’s all their own: Chicago is the only team in baseball history to have both a Mercedes and a Benz pitch for the team.