Brad Penny has found a new home in the U.S. after being cut by his Japanese team, but it isn’t with one of the team’s desperate for pitching; he took a minor league pact from the Giants.
Penny does qualify as rotation depth for a Giants team without much of it behind its five starters, but depending on how he performs, he could also be called up to the majors for the first time as a reliever later this season. 315 of Penny’s 319 major league appearances have been starts.
The plan is for Penny to report to extended spring training initially. He’ll likely be placed on a minor league team early next month.
Penny pitched for the Giants briefly in 2009 after being let go by the Red Sox and was a big success, finishing 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA in six starts. The 33-year-old right-hander was 11-11 with a 5.30 ERA for the Tigers last season.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.