Theo Epstein will be in the Baseball Hall of Fame one day as the architect of two teams who broke historic championship droughts, but let the record show that one of the best front office men in the history of the league also has some talent with a bat in his hands.
Former Cub Ryan Dempster needed to prepare for his upcoming stint with Team Canada at the World Baseball Classic, and for help, he went right to the top and went to Theo. He put on a helmet, jumped in the batting cage and took five at-bats against Dempster out in Mesa.
CSN Chicago says Dempster threw 50 pitches to Epstein, Tommy La Stella, and minor leaguer Todd Glaesmann.
“Theo said it looked very fast,” Dempster said by phone. “He takes instruction well, though. Eric Hinske, our hitting coach, told him, ‘When Demp gets ready to start picking his leg up, start swinging.’
“He did OK, though. He jammed one to third base and flared one to where the right fielder would be. Then I threw him some splits and he had no chance,” he added.
Theo had fun breaking it all down, too.
“Well, I know I can’t hit major league pitching, but I wanted to see if I could hit Ryan Dempster,” he said. “First at-bat he jammed me twice — ground foul past third and a grounder to third. Second at-bat, he punched me out looking on a ball below the zone. I immediately released the catcher who was calling balls and strikes.
“Third at-bat, ground single to left or groundball to short — depends who’s playing shortstop. Fourth at-bat, opposite field double. It was crushed, so I pimped it. Last at-bat, Demp wised up and threw me all splits and punched me out swinging. He still has a good split. And I still know my place … upstairs!”
Epstein is also realistic and understands his place, and that was never on the field. And thanks to the World Baseball Classic, the world got a chance to see Theo Epstein takes a few at bats, which we may never get a chance to see again.