Rule 5 Draft pickup Lahey 'thrilled'
College catcher, now a pitcher, tosses one inning in debut
PHILADELPHIA -- Tim Lahey looks more like a tight end from Notre Dame than someone who was once a catcher at Princeton. His 6-foot-6, 250-pound frame makes him an imposing presence on the mound, and right now, he's just happy to be on any mound.Lahey, a converted pitcher, was claimed by the Phillies on Friday. He went from being cut by the Cubs, who acquired him from the Twins in the Rule 5 Draft at December's Winter Meetings, to being picked up by the defending National League East champions -- a team that likely will contend again this season. "I'm thrilled to be here," said Lahey, after his first game in a Phils uniform on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park in an exhibition against the Blue Jays. The righty tossed one inning, giving up four hits and one run. "I thought I was going down to the Minors for the Cubs when this happened," Lahey said. "It's terrific. This is a great situation to be in. When I was told what the Cubs were going to do, someone told me there is a chance I'd be picked up. I just didn't know by whom." The suitor was the Phillies, who bolstered the back end of their bullpen with the right-hander, who finished the spring with an 0-1 record and a 6.75 ERA in 12 innings. As a Rule 5 Draft player, Lahey knows he walks a precarious line, able to waived at any time. For now, however, he's in a Major League uniform for a team that could be playing meaningful games into October, and will likely need as much pitching help as possible.
"It came down to a numbers situation with the Cubs," Lahey said. "Jon Lieber was moved to the bullpen, [so] the Cubs had to make a move. In a way, it was good for them and good for me."It's an odd trip that even led Lahey to the mound. He caught at Princeton and had a strong arm, but he struggled offensively.
"My coach at Princeton, Scott Bradley, suggested it might be a good idea that I pitch," Lahey said. "It's funny, because reaching the Majors might not have happened if I lit it up in the Appalachian League with my bat. Coach Bradley opened the idea that I [should] be a pitcher."It's helped Lahey get to the Phillies, who will activate closer Brad Lidge on April 5, when he is eligible to come off the disabled list. "I can't worry about that; my primary concern is do to whatever role they give me, and as long as I get the ball in my hands, I plan to compete and throw hard," Lahey said. "My results [against] Toronto were not great. I felt I needed a little time to get my rhythm going out there. I pitch to contact, and I felt the ball came out of my hand well. The bottom line is I'm here, and I'm excited to be here."
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.