On Saturday afternoon, Garrett jones, one month shy of his 34th birthday, had a rare baseball experience. In organized ball since 1999, the veteran infielder/outfielder has played in more than 1,900 games, yet never before was he asked to pitch during a game.
Jones and pitchers Nathan Eovaldi and Domingo German were traded to the Yankees in December of 2014 for David Phelps and Martin Prado.
The Illinois native entered Saturday’s contest as a pinch hitter and afterwards remained at first base. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Yankee skipper Joe Girardi told Jones he might need him to pitch in the ninth. With the Yanks trailing the Texas Rangers, 15-2, and one out, Jones walked from first base to the pitcher’s mound.
Jones replaced another rookie, Pinder, who has thrown 48 pitches in three innings, giving up two runs. Girardi explained the reason for the change, “The most he’s [Pinder] ever thrown this year was 42. I didn’t want to take a chance.”
Jones, who has not pitched since being in high school, more than 15 years ago, remarked, “I was a little nervous going out there. I never thought I’d pitch.” He recalled his goals, “Save our pitchers’ arms, try not to get a line drive hit back to me and just throw strikes, [but] even that was an issue.”
Although Jones only threw seven of his 17 pitches for strikes, he was the only one of the four pitchers for the Yanks who gave up neither a run nor a hit. Jones joked after the game, “I was throwing below hit speed.”
The first batter Jones faced, Delino DeShields walked. Shin-Soo Choo, who had driven in four runs earlier in the game, grounded out to first. Jones then hit Leonys Martin with a pitch before retiring Thomas Field on a fly ball to end the inning.
The first Yankee position player since Dean Anna to pitch for the club in April of 2014 summed up the experience, “It was a fun experience, pretty cool.”