Joe Beimel returns with the perfect pickoff
When Joe Beimel stepped on the mound for the Mariners in the eighth inning on Tuesday at Angel Stadium, the veteran left-hander hadn’t thrown a pitch in a Major League game since Aug. 11, 2011 when he closed out an 8-1 loss for the Pirates against the Brewers.
And when Beimel walked off the mound moments later, he still hadn’t thrown a Major League pitch in a 951-day span. Yet he recorded an out and got the Mariners out of a jam while preserving a 6-3 lead.
How to get an out without throwing a pitch isn’t a riddle or a trick question, but merely a tricky pickoff maneuver by the 36-year-old southpaw. Called in to face the left-handed Raul Ibanez, Beimel instead threw over to first and nailed Angels third baseman David Freese with a sudden maneuver that left the Angel Stadium crowd stunned and helped preserve the Mariners second straight victory over their American League West rivals.
Beimel had Tommy John elbow surgery in 2012 and spent last year in the Braves’ Minor League system. He earned a roster spot this spring from new Mariners skipper Lloyd McClendon, who was his manager from 2001-03 when Beimel first came up with the Pirates at the start of a career that later saw him as a key member of the Dodgers and Rockies bullpens from 2006-10.
Beimel was taking a ribbing from teammates as he stood in the Mariners clubhouse Tuesday after his ultra-efficient outing.
“You better ice that arm,” catcher John Buck yelled over.
“He gets outs without throwing pitches,” said fellow reliever Tom Wilhelmsen. “That’s how good he is.”
Beimel was enjoying it all, happy just to be back in the game again.
“I have no problems with getting the best result out of the least amount of work possible,” he said. “I think I was out just long enough for them to forget I have a pretty good move to first. I’ll take it. It’s one of those things where I can’t teach myself to throw 95, but I am left-handed and there’s really no excuse for me not to have a good pickoff move. That’s something you can work at. I’ve used it over the years.”
Beimel was in fact icing his arm, having gotten up twice in the bullpen and throwing enough warmup pitches to warrant a day’s work, even if his actual game time was all of about two seconds.
He said the call to throw over on the first pitch actually came from the bench, where McClendon and the Mariners staff are well aware of his excellent move, which nailed a runner in one of his Spring Training appearances as well.
“I probably would have thrown over anyway,” he said. “If there’s a chance you can get somebody out and not throw a pitch, why not? I’m sure I’m going to face Raul a few times this year, so the less pitches I have to show him, the better.”
Getting an out without throwing a pitch figures to make Beimel the answer to a trivia question somewhere and he’ll take that as well.
“Sweet. That’s always good,” he said. “Or usually it’s good anyway.”
In this case, it was perfect.