10/01/09 1:13 AM EST
Brown's appearance sets dubious record
Catcher becomes third position player to pitch this season
By Maureen Mullen / Special to MLB.com
On Wednesday night, though, he was the pitcher during the Red Sox's 12-0 blowout at the hands of Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays.
|By having catcher Dusty Brown pitch the ninth inning of Wednesday's loss to the Jays, the Sox have used a franchise-record three position players as pitchers this year.|
|Jonathan Van Every||April 30||2/3||1||0||0||0|
|Nick Green||Aug. 27||2||0||0||3||0|
|Dusty Brown||Sept. 30||1||2||1||0||1|
Pitching in the ninth inning, Brown had the dubious distinction of setting a new Red Sox record. The club has now used a franchise-record three position players -- Nick Green, who pitched against the White Sox Aug. 27, and Jonathan Van Every, who did so against the Rays on April 30 -- as pitchers this season. Brown also became the first catcher to pitch for the Sox.
"Really?" Brown said upon learning of his new place in the record books. "I didn't know that. That's cool."
Typically it's not so cool when that kind of a decision is made, the game well out of hand, a manager trying to preserve his bullpen.
"We're trying so hard to keep our pitching not only in order, but strong going forward," manager Terry Francona said. "We got to the bullpen so early, [Fernando] Cabrera hadn't pitched in a game in three weeks and we didn't want to leave him out there longer. We certainly have aspirations on getting our guys in order for next week. At the same time we have obligations to guys that haven't been here not to hurt them either. The innings were getting lengthy. We didn't want to pitch [Daniel] Bard tonight in a game where we're down more than a touchdown. That doesn't make a lot of sense, so we suck it up and take our beating."
Francona approached Brown in the seventh inning with his plan.
"I just think that I was really the only expendable player on the bench and I think they didn't want to burn anymore bullpen guys," Brown said. "So I got an inning."
Brown was the last of seven Sox pitchers in the game. He gave up a run on two hits, before striking out Randy Ruiz -- who went 4-for-6 with four runs scored, two RBIs, two home runs and a double, falling a triple shy of the cycle -- swinging on an 84-mph fastball.
"Yeah, I humped up a little bit on that last one," Brown said, tongue firmly in cheek. "Got two strikes, I saw a chance for a strikeout, so I put a little extra on it."
He had not pitched since 2001 at Yavapai Community College in Prescott, Ariz., when he served as the team's catcher and closer. Brown acknowledged he noticed the butterflies Wednesday.
"My first few warm-up pitches, it kind of set in and I was kind of nervous about it," he said. "But I settled down, I thought."
And Brown kept his repertoire simple.
"Straight fastballs, four-seamers," Brown said. "That's all I threw. I tried to take a little off of one pitch and bounced it. So that was the last one I tried to mix up a little bit."
George Kottaras, who split time behind the plate with Brown last season at Triple-A Pawtucket, appreciated Brown's willingness to take the ball.
"It was just one of those things where he's not going to throw any off-speed pitches," said Kottaras. "He's just going to throw his fastball and just hope for the best. He got out of some tough situations and got us through the ballgame."
Kottaras never thought he would catch Brown, but both backstops took their job seriously. What did Kottaras say to the newest Red Sox reliever when he came in from the bullpen?
"We just kind of smirked at each other and just kind of went over what we were trying to do and just went on from there," Kottaras said.
Brown made his big league debut June 19 and has appeared in four games for the Sox this season as a late-inning replacement behind the plate. He's had just one at-bat, and while he has a Major League strikeout on his pitching resume, he's still searching for his first big league hit. He knows he's not likely to see another appearance on the mound without his catcher's gear on, so he'll take this one for what it's worth.
"Yeah, it's kind of a funny thing," Brown said. "Everybody kind of had a laugh about it. But it was fun. Obviously, you don't want to get in a situation where you have to throw a position player. But it's always a good time."
Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.