Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Fuld enjoys pitching, hopes it's his last

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Once he got done being surprised and disoriented and nervous and concerned, Rays outfielder Sam Fuld actually enjoyed pitching in Monday's game.

Now he has no interest in ever doing so again.

"I think once is enough," Fuld said. "It would be like riding a roller coaster for me. I have yet to do it. I'll probably do it once in my life and say once is enough."

As much as Fuld, like many position players, has wanted the opportunity to pitch, actually getting to do so by facing, and retiring, J.B. Shuck on a popup for the final out of the eighth inning in the 11-2 loss was a bit more of an experience than he really wanted.

When manager Joe Maddon first mentioned the possibility, as he made the odd jog from the dugout to the bullpen after the seventh inning and even when he started warming up, Fuld was still skeptical he would get in the game, especially since it was September with expanded rosters.

"I was just kind of going through the motions getting loose but not really thinking it was going to happen," Fuld said. "Then the phone rang and then my heart raced and then I realized it was go time."

Advised by bullpen coach Stan Boroski to just throw fastballs, Fuld thought he felt pretty good about things as he headed to the mound. And then he got there.

"It all happened so quickly," he said. "Just realized there was a lot of stuff I had to figure out how to do — like putting my foot on the rubber, when to step off, whether to work out of the stretch."

The actual pitching went fine, Fuld hitting 86 mph four times and 87 once on the stadium board — and having no qualms about looking — in getting Shuck out. Even more exciting was checking the online PITCHf/x data that showed him topping out at 88.7 mph.

Fuld heard from plenty of family (starting with his dad) and friends (including, of course, ex-teammate Elliot Johnson), including some he figured saw the last time he was on the mound in high school. "I think my (velocity) actually went up since the last time I pitched," he said.

Fuld has a ball from the game, the lineup card, the reality of a better ERA than Hall of Famers such as Sandy Koufax, and the memories.

"I think it's pretty cool to say I did it," Fuld said, "but I don't want it to happen again."

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