Rare is the time when a relief pitcher gets to bat in a major-league game. Most of them pitch when they’re needed, then get lifted for a pinch hitter when it’s their turn in the lineup. And when relief pitchers do get to hit, there’s usually only one thing their manager wants them to do — avoid injury.
Chicago Cubs reliever Pedro Strop got a chance at the plate on Tuesday night in his team’s 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was only his second career at-bat, so it’s not like he’s Madison Bumgarner up there.
Not only did Strop manage to stay healthy, he did two other things that made this an amusing and noteworthy trip to the plate:
1. He surprised the heck of out of Pirates centerfielder Andrew McCutchen with a very well hit line drive to center field. It was a bit of a rocket. Check out Cutch’s reaction after he catches the ball, looking like he just saw something otherworldly.
2. Strop gives us a nice little bat flip. Since we hardly ever see relievers hit, we definitely don’t see relievers flip their bats. We have to wonder if this was more surprise than showmanship from Strop just based on his reaction. Nonetheless, if you’re a relief pitcher in your second career at-bat and you hit a line drive near the warning track, flip that bat, man.
It’s fairly obvious at this point what we think should happen next. More relievers need to hit in MLB games. If only for the shocked faces of outfielders.
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