Watch: Andrew Romine plays all nine positions in one game

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Weird baseball came early to the Tigers this weekend. Instead of allowing Andrew Romine to start at all nine positions on Sunday, as announced, club manager Brad Ausmus decided to have the outfielder go for the feat during Saturday’s 3-2 win over the Twins.

This doesn’t happen often. It’s the kind of end-of-season gimmick that helps draw crowds to a losing team and gives diehard fans a neat piece of trivia. In fact, only four other major league players have ever played all nine positions in a single game: Royals’ shortstop Bert Campaneris (1965), Twins’ infielder/outfielder Cesar Tovar (1968), Rangers’ infielder Scott Sheldon (2000) and Tigers’ infielder Shane Halter (2000). (A bonus fun fact: Ausmus was playing behind the dish on the day that Halter started at all nine positions, per MLB.com’s Jason Beck.)

Here’s how it all went down:

Romine started Saturday’s game in a familiar position, taking his spot in left field for the first inning. He fielded two fly ball outs, but couldn’t quite get to Miguel Sano‘s line drive single in time, and Tigers’ right-hander Buck Farmer walked in a run in the next at-bat.

In the second, Romine shook things up in the outfield. He shifted to center, while right fielder Alex Presley moved to left field and JaCoby Jones left his post in center field to cover right field. This time, no balls were hit in Romine’s direction, and Farmer held the Twins to a solitary walk.

Romine completed his tour of the outfield in the third inning, swapping places with Jones again so he could try out the right field corner. Eddie Rosario slapped a first-pitch single in Romine’s direction, but was left stranded as Sano and Max Kepler went down swinging to end the threat.

With all three outfield positions checked off, Romine changed places with third baseman Nick Castellanos in the fourth inning. Perhaps he’s a magnet: Eduardo Escobar popped out in the first at-bat, sending Romine hustling for the ball in foul territory.

Ausmus inserted Jeimer Candelario as a pinch-hitter in the top of the fifth inning, and the rookie returned to man the hot corner in the bottom of the inning while Romine tried his glove at shortstop. Joe Mauer led off with a walk, but Jorge Polanco gave Romine the opportunity he needed to test his double-play skills, grounding into a 4-6-3 play to catch Mauer at second base.

The Tigers stuck with their by-the-book strategy, keeping Romine moving around the horn in the sixth as he scooted over to second base and Dixon Machado shifted to short. Romine didn’t get any whizbangers here, though, as Chad Bell stepped in to replace Farmer and set down a quick 1-2-3 half-inning.

The real test of the night came in the seventh, when Romine made his first career appearance behind the dish. It’s a position his brother, Yankees’ catcher Austin Romine, is much more familiar with, and one that Andrew didn’t take a special shine to during his brief tryout on Saturday — despite getting to use his brother’s hand-me-down glove. He guided Blaine Hardy through four at-bats (with some generous help from Bryan Holaday at second base), during which Hardy induced a fly out, line drive double, RBI single, and a walk. Romine, meanwhile, contributed his first (and hopefully last) passed ball, and briefly returned to second base while James McCann stepped in to catch the rest of the inning.

Romine’s leash was even shorter when he got on the mound in the eighth. He missed the strike zone with his first two pitches and worked a 3-1 count before inducing a Miguel Sano groundout. That may have been too close for comfort for Ausmus, however, who moved Romine to first base for his ninth and final position of the night.

Romine fielded a routine grounder to end the eighth inning and returned in the bottom of the ninth as the Twins tried to rally for a late lead, capping the Tigers’ win after palming a Zack Granite grounder at first base.

“Right now, I’m just happy we won. I think it’ll kick in a little bit when I go and sit down and celebrate with the guys in the locker room,” the exhausted infielder/outfielder/catcher/pitcher said following the game. “Relief, happiness, you name it, I’m feeling it right now. It’s so much fun.”

Let’s hope he gets a breather tomorrow. He’s earned it.

Cards’ Pujols hits 700th career home run, 4th to reach mark

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run on Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history.

The 42-year-old Pujols hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.

With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.

It’s been a remarkable run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.

Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd – he finished out last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, raising his cap in acknowledgment.

The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” They finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.

Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Reaching 700 homers seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he was batting .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

“I know that early in the year … I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after he homered in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game (is) giving you back.

“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something that I’ve done all the time.”

Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March for a $2.5 million, one-year contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

He plans to retire when the season ends.

Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 – one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.