Pat Neshek has never recorded an at-bat during a MLB game in his 11-year career, but he’s still listed as a switch-hitter. For The Win’s Ted Berg recently spoke to Neshek, the Phillies’ veteran reliever who made his second career All-Star appearance Tuesday, and found out why that’s the case:
“I was (a switch-hitter), like, 19 years ago,” he said, referring to his high school days. He pitched in college, but never had an at-bat there, either. He marked himself as a switch-hitter on a form he signed when he was 18, the first time he was drafted. “Now I’m 36. I don’t think I could do it anymore. It was kind of like, this is kind of stupid, I’m just going to put this down.”
Neshek said he never takes batting practice and hopes he never gets a Major League plate appearance.
“It’d be an easy strikeout,” he said. “It’d be ugly.”
While pitching for the Padres’ Class AAA team in Tuscon in April of 2011, Neshek was called upon for a four-out save and came up to bat in the top of the ninth, the first and only time he has faced live pitching since high school. Facing journeyman Eric Stults, Neshek knocked a base hit to secure a lifetime 1.000 batting average.
“Actually,” he said, recalling that at-bat, “I faced a lefty and I hit righty, so nobody would ever know that I lied.”
That’s quite the story, and it illustrates a weird quirk of MLB stats. Everyone has to list what way they bat, even if they’re unlikely to ever bat. But it leads to some fun stories, like Neshek’s here. And hey, if he never actually bats, there’s no proof that he isn’t a switch-hitter.