The Padres' attempt to create a two-way player hits a snag on opening day

Coming into opening day, the most fascinating story on the San Diego Padres roster — and maybe in baseball, period — was Christian Bethancourt, who was trying to become a two-way player. Bethancourt, a 25-year-old backup catcher, spent his winter and spring learning how to be a pitcher.

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First step: Bethancourt made the Padres’ opening-day roster as a pitcher, meaning that part of the Padres’ plan had worked. He’d be able to pitch, catch and even play the outfield if they needed. He’d be the first two-way player in the big leagues since Brooks Kieschnick in 2004.

The second step for Bethancourt? Well, that didn’t go so well.

Christian Bethancourt on the ground after getting spiked on opening day. (AP)
Christian Bethancourt on the ground after getting spiked on opening day. (AP)

The Padres didn’t wait long at all to get Bethancourt some regular-season action on the mound. He was the first arm out of the bullpen for Padres manager Andy Green on opening day in what was a 14-3 beatdown. Bethancourt came in after the Los Angeles Dodgers pounded starter Jhoulys Chacin for seven runs by the fourth inning.

So Bethancourt came in and things got wild — as in two wild pitches, each allowing a Dodgers baserunner to score. The first one, he got spiked trying to cover home plate. He later walked Adrian Gonzalez but calmed down and got two consecutive fly outs to end the inning.

The upside of Bethancourt being a two-way player is this: His spot was up third in the following inning, so the Padres kept him in, not wanting to burn another pitcher. He struck out, but went back out to pitch the fifth inning. Things, unfortunatley, didn’t get much better.

Bethancourt gave up a double to Yasiel Puig and walked Clayton Kershaw before giving up a three-run homer to Corey Seager to make the score 12-1. Ouch. Bethancourt gave up another single before he was lifted from the game. It was only three earned runs in an inning and a third, but it sure felt like a lot more — and it was because two of those runs were charged to Chacin but came on Bethancourt’s wild pitches.

It’s opening day, so one game doesn’t mean The Christian Bethancourt Experiment is a failure. The Dodgers are, obviously, a very good offensive team and Bethancourt is obviously very green.

But a 20.25 ERA isn’t what you want to see from anybody — whether they’ve been pitching their whole life or if they’re a backup catcher trying something totally cool.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!