It was setting up to be a confrontation of epic beards, but Jayson Werth the slugger vs. Andrew Cashner the left fielder never came to fruition. With the San Diego Padres ace right-hander standing at the ready in the outfield Thursday night, Werth smoked a line drive right back to the mound, where right-hander Tim Stauffer, caught it for a scary out in the bottom of the 11th inning.
It was at that point Padres manager Bud Black removed Cashner from the game and replaced him with actual outfielder Tommy Medica in a double switch. Fun's over. Nothing else for the Washington Nationals to aim for in left field. And hey, at least Cashner didn't have to pitch against Werth and face the screaming mimi. There's an axiom in the major leagues that "the ball will always find you" when you least want it to. It's possible that Werth's ball was looking for Cashner but just got confused because he's usually on the mound.
For his effort, Cashner was received "warmly" by teammates in the Padres dugout, MLB.com's Corey Brock writes.
As it turns out, Cashner didn't have much to do.
"Nothing ... crickets," he said.
In parts of five seasons in the big leagues, Cashner has never appeared in a game anywhere other than pitcher.
"I always wanted to play a position in the big leagues. It was a dream come true," he said.
Black's motivation was twofold: He didn't want a left-handed pitcher, Alex Torres, to face Werth when one swing could end the game. Plus, already having lost outfielder Seth Smith to a groin strain injury earlier in the 11th, Black didn't want to "burn" another position player during an extra-inning game for one at-bat. So he utilized the National League's designated hitter-free, double-switch technology. American League managers can and do use double switches too, but the added dimension of the pitcher playing the field is more organic in the NL, where pitchers have to be ready to hit more frequently.
Black's tactics worked, and/or didn't hurt, and the Padres went on to win 4-3 in 12 innings. And Andrew Cashner, who had never played a position other than pitcher as a pro, got to live a dream. Fleetingly, but still.
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