Other than becoming the 556th position player in history to pitch in a major league game, according to Baseball Reference, not much about infielder Mike Freeman’s one inning of work was noteworthy.
He admitted he just wanted to get the ninth inning over with quickly in the Mariners’ 16-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Saturday night.
Freeman gave up one run on three hits. Of his 22 pitches, 14 were for strikes.
“If I maybe struck somebody out, that would have been satisfying or memorable,” Freeman said.
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Freeman became the seventh nonpitcher to pitch for Seattle. The last one was infielder Luis Sardinas, who pitched a scoreless eighth inning in the Mariners’ 12-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs last July.
“Interesting stuff happens when you throw those guys out there,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.
Servais said he talked to Freeman a couple of weeks ago about the possibility of pitching in a game to save a taxed bullpen.
The last time Freeman said he pitched in a game was in Little League. He noted that he and outfielder Ben Gamel had toyed around with some pitches while throwing around in the outfield before batting practice in recent days.
“I didn’t think it would come into play,” Freeman said.
With an abbreviated windup, Freeman’s fastball settled in the mid-70-mph range. It looked much like former knuckleballer Tim Wakefield’s motion.
“I think I was throwing slow enough to be compared to a Wakefield,” Freeman said, “except my ball was not knuckling.”
One by one, the Chicago hitters came up taking big hacks at Freeman’s pitches. Tim Anderson led off with a single. Matt Davidson followed with a single. Omar Narvaez made it three consecutive hits.
“I thought about having to brush them back — they were entirely too comfortable against me,” Freeman joked. “I was trying to switch it up — lob one in, then firm one in there.”
Willy Garcia’s sacrifice fly to center field scored the only run of the inning. Freeman got three fly-ball outs, then walked back to the dugout to a standing ovation.
“The way the game started (with an error while he was playing second base), I certainly did not think I would get a roar at the end of the game,” Freeman said.
As a former catcher, Servais said he caught one position player in the majors — and hit off one in the minor leagues.
He remembered his at-bat with Double-A Columbus in 1989 — after spending most of the summer with High-A Osceola.
It was the final day of the season against Birmingham. Barons catcher Todd Trafton, out of the University of Arizona, was allowed to play one full inning at each position.
In the eighth inning, Trafton took his turn on the mound. And Servais came up to bat.
“He threw an eephus pitch, and I hit it right down the left field line,” Servais said. “It hit the foul pole for a home run. It was the only home run I hit in Double-A — off a position player.”
Arkansas (Double-A/Texas League), a Mariners farm team, completed a doubleheader road sweep of Tulsa on Saturday — 6-5 and 6-1. Kyle Waldrop had a home run and four RBIs in the first game for the Travelers, and Tyler Marlette, Marcus Littlewood and Joey Wong hit consecutive home runs in the sixth inning of the second game.
THIS DATE IN HISTORY
Six years ago on this date — May 22, 2011 — Felix Hernandez tied a career high with 13 strikeouts over eight innings in a 6-1 victory over San Diego.
It was the Mariners’ ninth consecutive game where a starting pitcher went at least seven innings, giving up two or fewer runs. It was the longest streak of its kind in club history — and longest by an AL team since 1974.
Before Sunday’s game, Freeman was optioned back to Triple-A Tacoma to make room for first baseman Dan Vogelbach, who hit seventh in the lineup. Vogelbach might see extended time if Danny Valencia (left wrist) is sidelined. … Outfielder Mitch Haniger (oblique) did more work in the batting cage Sunday, but will have his rehab assignment delayed until Tuesday or Wednesday. Servais is hoping to get the rookie back sometime during the series in Boston. … Left-hander James Paxton threw another bullpen session Sunday, and likely will make a rehab start May 25 or May 26. He would be limited to 75 pitches, Servais said. Early discussion is that he would pitch for Double-A Arkansas, and could be ready to come off the DL for the Mariners’ next homestand. … Dillon Overton, who gave up five runs in four-plus innings Saturday, was sent to Tacoma so Chris Heston could come up and start Sunday.
After an off day, the Mariners jump into interleague play Tuesday, beginning a three-game series at Washington.
Right-hander Christian Bergman (1-1, 2.25 ERA) will kick it off for the Mariners. Tanner Roark (3-2, 4.73) goes for the Nationals. First pitch is at 4:05 p.m. PDT.
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest, and heard on 710-AM and the Mariners Radio Network, including mariners.com (for subscribers of MLB.tv).