While I’m not aware of any scientific studies on the topic, I’m certain that most pitchers love to hit. Or think that they can.
You’ll stumble across a few exceptions, much like the haters trying to get out of the batter’s box. Former Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen is 7-for-98 with 42 strikeouts and he comes by it honestly.
He’d rather step on broken glass in his bare feet than step to the plate.
John Means would walk on broken glass to get to it. OK, that might be an exaggeration, but he’s looking forward to batting tonight in the series opener against the Rockies at Coors Field.
No designated hitter and nothing to stop him.
“I actually was a lot better hitter in high school than pitching,” said Means, a graduate of Gardner-Edgerton in Kansas. “I won all my All-State stuff for hitting and I never was any good pitching. So I always had hitting lessons. I never took any pitching lessons. It was always hitting lessons.
“And now I’m a professional pitcher.”
Means has received one at-bat since the Orioles drafted him in the 11th round out of the West Virginia University. It came during his first professional season in 2014 while playing the Aberdeen IronBirds and he remembers every detail, including why it happened.
“I got an at-bat because Alex Murphy tore his labrum sliding into second and our other catcher was the DH,” he said. “The DH went to catcher and I hit for myself.”
With a special set of instructions that weren’t conducive to getting on base.
“I had to take two strikes. I was forced to do that,” he said. “I fouled two off and then he threw me a slider and I froze and strike three and walked back to the dugout.
“Actually I almost ran back to the dugout. I had run off the mound and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m not supposed to do that, right?’ But yeah, other than that ...”
Means played first base in high school before transitioning to pitcher at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas.
“I was left-handed, I was slow and couldn’t hit,” he said. “Well, I could hit, but I wasn’t the athlete they were hoping for because I was still growing in my body at that point. So they were like, ‘You’re left-handed, you throw decently, well, you’re going to be a pitcher.’ And here I am.
“I hit through my high school career, went to junior college and they’re like, ‘Yeah, you’re going to be a pitcher.’ And pitched ever since.”
Means has been taking batting practice this week with the other pitchers. Will he get the same set of special instructions tonight?
“I don’t know,” he said. “They haven’t told me any restrictions yet, so hopefully I get the green light if no one’s on base. But obviously bunting them over if they are.”
Means gets to experience the thin are in Colorado. Good for hitters, not so much for the guys trying to get them out.
“I’ve heard,” he said. “Obviously, everyone talks about the altitude and everything. But I’m interested to see how much it really affects it. It’s kind of more of a first-time experience, so it will be exciting to see what it does and how it affects it.”
The Orioles are making their second trip to Colorado and the first since losing two of three games back in 2004. They avoided the sweep with B.J. Ryan getting the win and Jorge Julio his 10th save, improving their record to 28-37.
Daniel Cabrera, Mike DeJean and John Parrish pitched before Ryan, but the real story was the grand slam by Brian Roberts with two outs in the ninth inning. Shawn Chacon walked Jerry Hairston, David Newhan and Luis López to load the bases.
Sidney Ponson and Eric DuBose were the losing pitchers in the first two games. If you remember Eddy Rodríguez, who replaced DuBose after 3 1/3 innings, I’d like to shake your hand.
Or check myself for a head injury, because the guy made 29 appearances that season and nine more in 2006. He later signed with the Marlins.
Now it’s all coming back to me. And that’s not necessarily a comfort.
Anyway, the Orioles lost two of three to the Rockies at Camden Yards in 2016 and are 6-6 against them at home.