Occasionally teams mess around with putting a relief pitcher in the outfield for a single batter and then bringing him back to the mound after the batter is retired. It’s not common, but it’s a way to achieve some better matchups without burning a pitcher. It’s different, the advantages are probably minimal in the grand scheme, but it’s innovative I suppose.
The Rays skew innovative, particularly with their relief pitcher use, and today they did something I haven’t seem before. They did the old switch-in-switch-out with a reliever, but rather than hide the reliever in left field, they put him at third base for a single at bat.
The pitcher was Sergio Romo. It looked like this:
There isn’t much more to show you because he didn’t get a chance to make a play. Still looks weird out there, though, right?
As for how it played out: Romo had finished the eighth inning on the mound. Lefty Greg Bird was leading off the ninth, so Rays manager Kevin Cash wanted a lefty to face him. Jonny Venters came in to face Bird, inducing a ground out. Then Romo got back on the mound. A couple of batters reached buy then Romo got Austin Romine to pop out and Brett Gardner to strike out. Rays win, Romo gets the save. I guess, in a way, he got a hold too, but they didn’t award him that. I guess you can’t get both a save and a hold? I dunno.
Anyway, modern baseball. It’s fantastic.
On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.
After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.
Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.
The full statement:
Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.
We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.
We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.
Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.