Inside the Cubs’ position-player pitching experience

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It’s not just a fad anymore, or something to laugh about later. Major league managers are using their position players on the mound as a strategy — instead of a novelty — to save their bullpen. And as you might imagine, Chicago Cubs skipper Joe Maddon is at the forefront of the trend. He’s more unorthodox than most.

This year alone, the Cubs have used a position player in six different instances — the most times in baseball — including in two games in four days recently. In one, against the St. Louis Cardinals, Maddon used three different position players to get through innings seven through nine. Three days later, against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he used two more to finish the game, including first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo has been begging his various managers over the years to get his chance. It finally came with two outs in the ninth inning.

“Was good theatre,” Maddon said. “I’ve heard from more fans walking around how much they enjoyed that moment.“nfl cheap jerseys nike

Rizzo threw two pitches, getting A.J. Pollock to fly out to center field. Those in attendance went crazy, giving him a standing ovation, despite the 7-1 loss.

“It was crazy,” Pollock said. “Fans going nuts. I was trying to figure out what the hell was going on. Then you’re trying to figure out how hard he’s going to throw. You know he can probably throw in the 80s or is he going to just go with 40 mph?”7

Rizzo made sure to throw on the softer side, as an injury would have been a monumental public relations disaster for the Cubs, let alone one that could have dashed their World Series hopes.

“I take my side sessions during my pregame routine a little more serious, actually,” Rizzo said. “But I’m not going to the mound and blow out my arm.”

No matter what the final score is, position players pitching almost always elicit entertaining moments, such as when Cubs backup catcher Victor Caratini took the mound to face Diamondbacks slugger Paul Goldschmidt last Monday. Caratini already had an inning under his belt, logged a few days prior against the Cardinals, but that didn’t settle his nerves.

“Honestly, I was a little bit scared,” Caratini recalled through an interpreter. “He’s a great hitter. I was just waiting for a line drive right back at me. I didn’t know how I would be able to react to it.”

Before Goldschmidt stepped in, Caratini got some sage advice from his backstop mate, Willson Contreras.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“Caratini told me he might quick-pitch Paul Goldschmidt because he didn’t want to get hit by a line drive,” Contreras said. “I told him to throw really soft and start running back. Then you’ll have time to react.”