Scorpions beat Fielders with lineup of pitchers
Looking at Saturday’s final between the Yuma Scorpions and Lake County Fielders, you might have felt you were looking a bizzaro box score.
Yuma player-manager Jose Canseco tossed six innings of one-run ball, Joey Gathright played catcher and virtually the entire lineup was made of pitchers. Oh, and the last-place Scorpions defeated the first-place Fielders 8-3 in Zion, Ill.
Following the abrupt resignation of Lake County manager Tim Johnson before the game, an interesting chain reaction of events occurred. Several Fielders joined Johnson in his impromptu exit from the team, allegedly saying the team hasn’t been keeping up with payroll.
The Lake County Fielders are owned by actor Kevin Costner, according to the team’s official website. Lake County president Rich Ehrenreich told Yuma general manager Jose Melendez that Lake County is up to date with its finances.
Attempts to reach Canseco for comment were unsuccessful.
With virtually no players at his disposal, Lake County interim manager Pete LaCock was forced to fill his lineup with pitchers. In a gesture of respect to Johnson, who managed him with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1998, Canseco decided to level the playing field. So Canseco took the mound for his second start of the year, while eight pitchers and a true catcher, Zach Larson, made up Yuma’s batting order. Of the 13 Fielders to take an at-bat, 11 were pitchers and two were catchers.
“Of course, we won. But when I first saw the lineup, I was calling Jose non-stop,” Melendez said.
Understandably, Melendez didn’t initially agree with Canseco’s decision. Sitting 13 games out of first-place entering play Saturday, Melendez and Scorpions (13-27) need every win they can get. But after talking to Canseco, Melendez said he understood the ex-big leaguer’s logic.
“It shows you what kind of person Jose Canseco is,” Melendez said. “He’s a good person if you ever treat him well. All Tim Johnson did was treat him well with the Blue Jays.”
Performance-wise, the Scorpions’ offense fared better than normal. Yuma racked up 14 hits, including a home run from Eric Stolp. The right-handed reliever batted third and played shortstop, going 2-for-5 with a home run, a double, an RBI and three runs scored. JJ Leaper, another reliever, went 3-for-3 with two walks, two runs scored and an RBI, while batting fifth as designated hitter. Gathright, who played six seasons as Major League outfielder from 2004-09, entered as Larson’s defensive replacement in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Following Canseco’s start, backup catcher Jason Diaz allowed a run in the seventh, infielder Jared McDonald allowed a run in the eighth and outfielder JJ Muse tossed a scoreless ninth.
“I told you, man,” Melendez said. “We’re an interesting team. We’re full of drama.”