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Royal Blues


July 26, 2009 3:29 PM

TPJ becoming a pitcher: A Good Thing

Dustin Nippert* is currently dominating the Royals in the middle- and later innings, much to the relief of Texas starter Kevin Millwood, who was removed from the game early on. Despite that, and despite the three unearned runs KC coughed up in the top of the 7th - didn't that missed popup bring back horrible flashbacks of 2008? - I am sort of, almost, maybe happy with the Royals today.

*the pitcher who threw the only no-hitter I've ever seen in person.


Yesterday's news that Tony Pena Jr. will attempt to come back as a pitcher makes me very happy. Sure, you could ask "Why didn't he do this sooner?" but I'm surprised and pleased that it's happening at all. We all see the numbers TPJ has put up the last two seasons. For us, outside observers, it's easy to wonder why he didn't just realize he has no chance to keep making a living as a position player.

But self-assessment is a lot harder. Of course it took TPJ himself a lot longer to make this life-changing decision. It's one thing for a position player to change to pitching early in a career - blog favorites Brian Bannister and Chris 'Disco' Hayes both did so in college - but TPJ is 28 years old. He could have kept toiling away in the minors, trying to keep some kind of shortstop dreams allive, because, hey, he'd still have a job as ballplayer.

This pitching thing might not work out at all. He might work out in the rookie leagues and find out that that magical inning wasn't indicitave of pitching talent after all. And then what?

Whether his conversion to pitching is successful or not, I applaud both TPJ and the Royals organization for giving it a try. It's somewhat outside-the-box, which we all know is something this team tends to lack. And it's a second chance for someone who is, by all accounts, a good human being. I can't help but to support that.  

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