Owings: pitcher or batter?
I will go ahead and take an unpopular dissenting opinion. I’m not in favor of turning pitcher Micah Owings into a left fielder. I know he can hit and it isn’t a fluke. In 121 at-bats, he’s batting .322 with five homers, 11 doubles and 21 RBIs. That’s including his huge pinch-hit double that drove in two runs in the seventh inning for a 4-2 Reds win over the Astros on Sunday.
I know the Reds are hitting a MLB-worst .210 right now. With pitching being such a premium in the long run, are you really willing to trash a healthy arm for the extra bat in the short term? Owings has had the benefit of hitting pretty much every five days as a starting pitcher and once in a while as a pinch-hitter. He’s rarely had to grind through every day feeling less than 100 percent. He’s never been mired in a prolonged slump that comes with regular play over 162 games. And he’s never played left field in the Majors. You had zero tolerance for Adam Dunn’s less than stellar defense in left field. What would you do if Owings took a bad route on a fly ball at Great American Ball Park? The answer is you’d jump all over him.
A few years from now when Owings can no longer successfully pitch, whether it’s because of age or injury, then that’s an easy move to groom him for an every day spot at first base or the outfield. But for now, he’s just 26 and I’m still high on his potential as a pitcher. He’s had one start for the Reds. Let him pitch before we change his career for him.
“I just like the opportunity. I enjoy it,” Owings said of hitting. “I had opportunities in high school and college and I can’t say enough about the opportunities I’ve gotten in my pro career so far. Every time I get in there, I’m just going to enjoy it and do the best that I can.”
And of course, Owings knew the question was coming about becoming an every day player.
“I don’t want to go there. I know what you’re thinking,” he said. “I will work on getting ready for Tuesday. I feel like I’ve worked hard and made a lot of strides. The outcome was what any of us wanted the other night. It’s a long season and I have to focus on the next time I get out there and each pitch.”