Detroit Tigers utility man Andrew Romine lived up to that moniker on Saturday. With the cooperation of out-going manager Brad Ausmus, the 31-year-old veteran became the fifth player in MLB history to play all nine positions in a regular season game.
It’s the same trick comedian Will Ferrell pulled off at spring training two years ago, minus the designated hitter and the dramatic helicopter entrances. Romine stayed in one location, but he traveled to every part of Target Field before the night was over.
The Tigers won the game 3-2, which we think was their goal. As for the execution of the #RominePlaysNine plan, it left a lot to be desired. In fact, it nearly backfired once Romine put on the catcher’s gear. It probably didn’t win many fans in the Twins dugout either. After all, they’re a team trying to prepare for the postseason, but ended up in an awkward position as the background to Romine’s stunt.
Romine started his day where he’s most comfortable — the outfield. He moved from left field to center field to right field over the first three innings, before shifting to the third base in the fourth. From there he moved to shortstop and second base. It was fairly uneventful to that point, as Romine handled five chances cleanly at his various positions.
That left first base and the two positions least familiar to Romine, at least at the major league level. Romine has made three relief appearances in mop up duty for Detroit, so at least he was comfortable there. However, Romine had never caught an inning over his eight-year MLB career, which might surprise some people given that his brother is Austin Romine, the backup catcher for the Yankees.
Things got a little dicey the instant Romine set up behind the plate to start the seventh inning. At the time, Detroit led by two runs, but that quickly shrunk to one. There was a fly out, then a double, single and walk, with a run-scoring passed ball (a pitch Romine should have caught, but didn’t) mixed in. That prompted Ausmus to insert James McCann, who started the game at designated hitter, at catcher after four batters. Romine finished the inning at second base.
In the eighth inning, Romine started on the pitching mound. Again, he has done this before, allowing three runs over 2 1/3 career innings. But some on the Twins side were not amused that his one batter was Miguel Sano. The All-Star third baseman was in his first game back off the disabled list, and the Twins wanted to get him out there to face actual pitching.
Romine does not qualify.
This is unfortunate. Sano needs to see real pitching, not a Detroit freak show
— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) October 1, 2017
What can the Twins possibly learn about Sano here?
— LaVelle E. Neal III (@LaVelleNeal) October 1, 2017
That’s the response from Minnesota’s beat writers. The fans at Target Field were a little more generous, giving Romine a standing ovation after he retired Sano and moved to first base.
That's all nine positions for Andrew Romine, who gets a standing ovation from crowd at Target Field.
— Jason Beck (@beckjason) October 1, 2017
Romine stayed at first base for the ninth inning, and perhaps fittingly caught the final out. He logged plate appearances as well, contributing a single and walk.
It’s easy to see both sides of the argument. The Twins are focused on some serious business, as in the AL wild-card game that’s coming up on Tuesday. These at-bats are important, particularly to Sano who’s trying to shake off some rust following his six-week absence. There’s also the chance of a weird injury with a guy out of position, particularly when he’s pitching.
On the Tigers side, they don’t really owe the Twins or anyone else anything. The game meant next to nothing in the standings. Why not try to become a footnote in baseball history? It’s a little bit selfish and quite a bit risky, but the Tigers or Andrew Romine owe no one an apology.
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