Not sure why I have a fascination with Andy LaRoche. Partially because I always find the lesser-half of baseball brother combinations interesting. Partially because there was about ten minutes there, back several years ago, when Andy LaRoche looked like a good prospect and I and many like-minded people mocked organizations for not appreciating his greatness. Dude hit .285/.372/.429 in the minors, and at one point back in the day that line was even higher.
The Blue Jays DFA’d LaRoche last night. After he was called up on Friday, got his first major league action in two years on Sunday and went 0 for 4. Now he’s likely to be released again and I wouldn’t bet the banana I’m eating that he sees the bigs again. He’s had over 1,300 big league plate appearances in which to figure it out. He still hasn’t figured it out and likely never will.
It’s not important for our purposes because he’s, after all, merely Andy LaRoche. But he is a reminder that baseball is a weird game and that even things that seem so certain in one moment are never so certain the next.
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.