David Robertson waited 14 years for this moment.
The 37-year-old close to the Chicago Cubs was itching to step into the batsman’s box just once during his major league career. His time eventually culminated in the Cubs’ 14-5 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.
Robertson had not taken an official at-bat as a shortstop and pitcher in Tuscaloosa, Ala. since high school, a stretch that included pitching 787s in professional baseball dating back to when the New York Yankees pulled him out of the University of Alabama in 2006. was. ,
But Robertson hoped that the opportunity would come at some point during his big league career. The situation was decidedly unconventional. With two outs in the top of the ninth, Robertson struck against Pirates fielder Diego Castillo.
As everyone in the Cubs dugout stood against the railing for a front row view, Castillo hit Robertson with a swing at full count. In honor of his first career MLB at-bat, Robertson was given the Cubs lineup card from the game. He is planning to find a place to hang it in his house.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever get a second chance, so I’m glad I did and made my dream come true,” Robertson said. “Even though I killed.”
Robertson borrowed Christopher Morrell’s bat and Yann Gomes’ helmet. Someone offered him batting gloves, but he refused. He figured he wouldn’t mind because Robertson’s approach was simple: swing hard and hit the ball.
“I wasn’t really thinking about anything else,” Robertson said. “It looked like the mound was too close.”
His memorable moment was initially a long shot.
Robertson, who scored eighth, needed the offense’s help to reach the plate. He was placed in the designated hitter spot in the order, not until the eighth in the final inning. Castillo faced two of the first three Cubs, but Andrelton Simmons went, Jason Hayward was hit by a pitch to load a base and Alfonso Rivas followed up with his first career Grand Slam. Rafael Ortega’s two-strike single brought up Robertson.
“I didn’t think it was really going to happen,” he said.
“And then I blew it. I made a huge mistake.”
Robertson trailed by Castillo 1-2 before making full count. He whispered on the sixth pitch of the at-bat, which was raised above the zone for a potential ball. Robertson never saw a pitch faster than 55.4 mph. One of his three swing-and-misses came at a 40.4-mph epoch.
Throughout the sequence, a grin spread across Robertson’s face.
“It was fun to be in the box, I couldn’t hit the ball,” said Robertson. “It was too slow and I wasn’t going to walk. … I mean, it’s easy to tell when it’s a ball or when it’s a strike, like, 40 mph, but I wasn’t going to walk. I had to swing . I had to try.”
Manager David Ross discussed the matter with Robertson before the Pirates were brought to Castillo for the ninth. Ross said he had been looking to bat Robertson a couple of times this season and wasn’t sure it was going to work on Wednesday.
Seeing Robertson’s coaches and teammates hit him, he had a few laughs. Ross joked that Robertson had “very poor speed for how slow it was coming.” He noticed that Robertson couldn’t stop smiling on the deck and called him a child at heart, even when the veteran was pitching.
Robertson said he “absolutely” heard from his teammates after his strikeout back into the dugout, all in good fun, declaring: “He was wearing me.” Ian Happ, who took the win, joked that Robertson needed to go to the cage to work on his swing.
“It was tough,” said a happy Keegan Thompson after restricting the Pirates to one run in six innings. “He’s been begging for an at-bat all year and he swings and misses three times. I mean, at least that swing happened, but you have to put the ball in play.”
Baseball is a long season, and for the Cubs team closer to last place than before, Robertson’s hitting was a welcome one.
“It felt like the first time I laughed in the dugout, so it definitely felt good,” Ross said. “These guys keep coming and working hard, and you want to see them succeed and we succeed, and there are nights when you have the ability to relax and take your mind off a lot of little things and just have a little bit of fun.” Comes and see D-Rob getting up there and for once a position player versus pitcher, (it was) fun to watch.