It goes in the box score as a 1-3 putout, but Chicago Cubs minor league pitcher Javier Assad deserves extra credit for his play on Friday.
Just two batters into the game, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans starter drew a bunt from Salem Red Sox second baseman Marco Hernandez and fielded the ball cleanly. But after dropping the ball, he did the only thing he could to salvage the play: kick it to the first baseman.
Amazingly, the punt was right on target, and Assad got the runner by a step for what will be in the running for the highlight of the year.
First baseman Cam Balego did well to stay with the play even though he didn’t expect the ball to be kicked at him.
"At first, I saw it fumbled and thought the play was going to be ended," Balego said, via MiLB.com. "The next thing you know, I have a baseball at my chest and was like, 'Oh, wow,' and kind of processed it, that he kicked it to me. It was kind of crazy, him kicking a baseball. Usually, you'll see if a ball's foul, a guy will kick a ball foul or something like that. Seeing someone kick a ball up to make a play is kind of crazy. It honestly caught me off-guard.”
Although Assad didn’t have to use his feet again in the game, he cruised through six scoreless inning and didn’t allow a hit until Hernandez got redemption with a fourth-inning single.
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