The San Diego Padres spoke to Christian Bethancourt about being a rare multi-purpose player who would play pitcher and catcher.
Bethancourt said the team approached him and asked if he would agree. He said he liked the idea the team had and looks forward to how things go during the season.
Bethancourt, who is 25, is a catcher who is also working with the pitchers for the Padres this spring. The team hopes that Bethancourt will also play the outfield as well as pitch and catch. He could possibly play one, two or all three positions at some point during the same game this season.
On Wednesday, Bethancourt pitches for the first time during the Cactus League in one of the team’s split squad games.
The majority of his work has been as a pitcher, getting a few at bats when possible, said Andy Green the Padres manager on Monday after Bethancourt, the DH for the game, was 0 for 1 including a walk against the Los Angeles Angels.
Green added that the learning curve was steep but that Bethancourt was adapting to it well.
After working his way through the farm system of the Atlanta Braves, Bethancourt was traded to San Diego. The Panama native hit .228 with 6 home runs during 73 games last season.
However, a pair of appearances in relief last season gave San Diego the idea. Bethancourt appeared for 1 2/3 innings and allowed no runs, walked three, hit one batter and struck one batter out.
During the offseason, the team approached Bethancourt about a possible move into the bullpen as well as playing catcher.
Green said the team was intrigued with Bethancourt’s arm strength when he pitched in relief for them. Green added that watching him behind the plate it is easy to see how strong of an arm the player has.
The Padres manager added that Bethancourt has a great deal of work to do to become a successful pitcher, but noted that the team has seen plenty of catcher converts become talented pitchers.
It is unknown if Bethancourt would become the first pitcher/catcher who is regularly used in the majors, but the last time it was done was during the 1930s when Ted Radcliffe did both while in the Negro Leagues.
Jordan Schafer an outfielder is pitching as well as this spring in an attempt to make the roster for the St. Louis Cardinals.