Owings proving to be a dual threat
Right-handed pitcher shows that he can swing the bat as well
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Fifth-starter contender Micah Owings finally got to use a bat in a game on Wednesday, and he provided a potential preview of the dual purpose he can serve.Although it was in a Minor League game, Owings went 1-for-2, including a home run, using Norris Hopper's bat.
"The first at-bat was ugly. I saw three pitches, made three swings and sat down," Owings said on Thursday afternoon. "The next at-bat, I broke my bat on the first pitch and fouled it off down the line. I got one of Hop's bats, which he gave me because I only brought one out there."Ironically, Hopper -- who has one career big league homer, in 2006 -- also hit a long ball in a Triple-A game on Wednesday with the same bat. A 2007 Silver Slugger Award winner, Owings is a .319 career hitter, with five homers in 75 games. Being a pitcher and a good hitter helps stretch the bench, and the 26-year-old has pinch-hitting experience. On the mound, Owings' line wasn't very pretty. Over 4 1/3 innings, the right-hander gave up seven runs (six earned) on nine hits, with five strikeouts and one hit batter. He threw 71 pitches, 51 for strikes. "It's not easy pitching against the young guys," manager Dusty Baker said. "It's a bigger deal for the kids to face them than it is for them to face the kids. You call home and tell them what you did. 'Daddy, I think I'm ready.' " A throwing error to third base on a bunt play apparently opened the gates against Owings, who was more focused on throwing strikes and getting his pitch count up. "The results probably didn't indicate how I felt," Owings said. "The first three innings went well, and I felt good. Looking back, I could have probably done a couple of things differently. Those guys were just swinging." In four big league spring games, Owings is 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA, eight hits and 16 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings. His chief competition for the fifth spot is Homer Bailey (0-0, 0.90 ERA), who is starting on Saturday vs. the Pirates.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.