Joey Votto's final rehab game for the Louisville Bats on Monday afternoon was an eventful one, though not really for anything the 2010 National League MVP did at the plate — he finished 0 for 3 with two strikeouts. It was eventful because their opponents, the Indianapolis Indians — the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates — decided to treat the game, which was actually the final game of the International League season, as a complete exhibition, and all kinds of weirdness ensued as a result.
The most notable of the unique occurrences was supposed to be utility man Jeff Larish's attempt to match Justin Toole's accomplishment from last week by playing nine defensive positions in a nine-inning game. However, heavy rain at the ballpark and the increasing likelihood the game wouldn't be completed influenced the Indians to change their plan up a bit, and that led to something completely different stealing the show:
Yes, that's 350-pound relief pitcher Jose "Jumbo" Diaz pulling off a clean heist of third base in the eighth inning. Your eyes did not deceive you. Now, here's the unusual scenario which led to him not only getting a very rare plate appearance, but the opportunity to stun everybody with his Billy Hamilton impression.
Rather than have Larish start the eighth inning on the mound as scheduled, he was moved from first base to the hill with two outs in that seventh to hopefully help him beat the weather in his quest for history. That forced some maneuvering around the infield with second baseman Hector Luna moving over to first base and Diaz, who recorded the first two outs on the mound, to shift to second base.
The plan went off without a hitch defensively, as Larish retired outfielder P.J. Phillips on a pop-up after allowing one walk. But the craziness was really just beginning, as Nancy Zinni of Pirates Prospects describes in her postgame recap:
The top of the 8th began with the Indians' second baseman coming to the plate — Jose Diaz, in only his second professional at-bat. The crowd laughed even more when Diaz made contact, though they did not laugh at 1B Votto, who went to his left to make the play on Diaz's grounder, and bobbled it. Votto still had time, but he rushed his throw to his pitcher who was covering first base. The throw sailed wide, and Diaz raced to second base on the 2-base error.
The Indians' radio team began joking about how funny it would be if Diaz tried to steal third base — and just as they said it, that's what happened. Diaz completely surprised the Bats by taking off for third, and he got there standing up, not even drawing a throw, for his first ever stolen base.
To cap it all off, Chase d'Amaud would bring Diaz home with a single to right field, increasing the Indians' lead to 2-0.
Unfortunately, though, that's where the scoring would end as the tarp was brought out before the half inning could be completed. The umpires only waited 30 minutes before calling the game off, meaning Jeff Larish's attempt fell one position short (catcher).
But hey, it was admirable effort on his part. It was certainly a creative effort by the Indianapolis Indians. And above all else, it was a uniquely entertaining day at the yard for those in attendance. You can't ask for much more than that on the final day of the minor-league regular season.