Rangers forced to call on position player for ninth inning during rout
By Cody Stavenhagen
ARLINGTON -- It's never a good sign when Rangers infielder Adam Rosales is icing his arm after pitching in a nine-inning game.
But Rosales pitched for the second time this season when he threw the ninth inning in the Rangers' 21-5 loss to the Yankees on Tuesday. He allowed two runs on a Brett Gardner home run, but also struck out Yankees right fielder Chris Young.
Rosales became the first Rangers position player to pitch twice in one season. The only other non-pitcher with two pitching appearances for the Rangers is Jeff Kunkel in 1988 and '89.
"It's not what we want to do," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "I don't ever want to put a position player out there on the mound at any point, but there comes a time where you have to make a decision to save the rest of the bullpen."
That time certainly came Tuesday. After starter Martin Perez exited in the second inning, the Rangers used five relievers before going with Rosales for the ninth.
The only options left in the Rangers' bullpen were closer Shawn Tolleson and right-hander Keone Kela, who is tied for the American League lead with 47 appearances. In a blowout game, that meant Rosales was the most logical choice.
"I was just trying to get three quick outs, just put the ball over the plate," Rosales said. He previously pitched one inning in a 12-2 loss on June 26 at Toronto. He allowed one run, a homer to Danny Valencia, in that game. Rosales said he only threw fastballs in that appearance, but Tuesday he got a bit more creative.
Rosales said he started using a split-finger grip in the bullpen to change speeds. His first pitch, a fastball, was 89 mph. His third pitch, using the split-finger grip, was 76 mph.
"I threw it in the bullpen," Rosales said. "It looked like it was decent, like it was moving good. But you have to have a pretty good fastball to back that up, I think."
Jacoby Ellsbury led off the inning by reaching on a catcher's interference for the second time in the game. Gardner then blasted a ball out to right field for the home run, at which point Rosales said he went back to throwing straight fastballs.
Like multiple other Rangers pitchers, his outing took longer than hoped. Rosales threw 26 pitches, 15 for strikes, and ended icing his arm after a game in which it took extreme measures to avoid collateral damage to the bullpen going forward.
Cody Stavenhagen is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.