Shortstop Janish pitches in blowout

Shortstop Janish pitches in blowout

CINCINNATI -- With the Reds' relievers taxed and the Brewers holding a 10-3 lead entering the ninth inning on Wednesday, manager Dusty Baker took an unorthodox step to preserve his bullpen, moving Paul Janish from shortstop to the pitcher's mound.

"It's the first time I've done that in my career, actually," the skipper said.

Janish was a shortstop and closer for Rice University as recently as 2003. Baker didn't know that until his friend, Ralph Garr, a scout for the Braves, brought it up during a road trip in Houston last month.

"[Garr] watched me all through college and saw me pitch. He was talking about it," Janish said. "Dusty overheard us, and that's when I became our emergency pitcher. It came to fruition tonight."

Janish became the first Reds position player to pitch since Lenny Harris did it on June 1, 1998, at San Francisco. Baker had already used four relievers in the game and didn't want to use more of his bullpen. The Reds had a 14-inning game at Florida two nights earlier and were starting a seven-day stretch with no days off.

Nick Masset had pitched two straight games, and Arthur Rhodes had worked three of the previous four games. Baker wanted to preserve Jared Burton.

"It boiled down to the process of elimination," Baker said.

Sticking mainly with fastballs between 88-91 mph, and topping out at 92 mph, Janish struck out first batter J.J. Hardy. Then the Brewers started attacking.

"I think I had a little left in the tank, but I didn't want to risk running up into anyone's gut," Janish said. "I tried to run it across the plate. Unfortunately, that's what they were looking for."

Janish gave up back-to-back singles, including one to Carlos Corporan for his first big league hit. Craig Counsell hit a two-out RBI double, and Ryan Braun added an RBI single. The big hit was Prince Fielder's two-run homer to right field. With his 35th pitch of the inning, Janish finally struck out Chris Duffy to end his Major League mound debut.

"I asked him if we was OK," Baker said. "That was his last batter. He had thrown a lot of pitches, and we certainly didn't want to hurt him. If I had to go to the mound, I was going to ask around the field who else could pitch. It was almost like a Little League game out there at that point."

"I was trying not to blow anything out, just run strikes up there," Janish said. "Unfortunately, I had to go through the heart of their lineup."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.