Atlanta Braves broadcaster Chip Caray called it an "eephus pitch," because right-hander Tim Hudson doesn't throw a knuckleball. Or so the world thought, until Thursday, when he threw one to Adam LaRoche of the Washington Nationals during Grapefruit League action. And LaRoche was the one who coaxed Hudson into doing it.
The pitch was OK, about 50 mph with a little downward tumble. Not a strike, but not a bad location. Hudson might or might not have been joking when he said later:
"It's a new pitch I've been working on. I was going to wait until the All-Star break to break it out, but it's been so good lately that I think I'm going to start implementing it.
"He actually looked at me and gave me the knuckleball [sign], 'ha-ha-ha.' I did it. Almost a strike. Yeah. It was close. Over the plate, a little down."
Nationals Enquirer jotted down more details, as gathered by Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. Hudson and LaRoche are friends and former teammates who "mess" with each other. And what better time than during spring training, when results matter not and just getting past the tedium until the regular season starts is what it's all about?
I'll tell you what better time: How about in the middle of the season, like LaRoche's dad used to do!
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LaRoche's father, former major league pitcher Dave LaRoche, was famous for throwing an eephus pitch — a real one, called the "La Lob" — that he used to retire Gorman Thomas in a real baseball game. None of this knuckleball-in-spring-training stuff.
Now that's "messin' " around. Hudson needs to throw LaRoche a knuckler during the pennant race, or we have no reason to respect him as a prankster.
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