As noted in this very space, former Astros outfielder Jason Lane was called back up to the big leagues by the Padres on Tuesday. He's not an outfielder anymore though. Lane is a left-handed pitcher now, having made the conversion a few years ago when the whole hitting thing stopped working.
Lane, now 37, spent the last six years pitching in Triple-A for five different organizations. He last played in MLB back in 2007. Padres manager Bud Black called on Lane in long relief last night, and he retired all 10 batters he faced:
Lane is very much a soft-tosser, getting all of his outs on 86-87 mph fastballs and dead fish changeups. That's perfectly fine. Whatever works.
As you can imagine, he was pretty thrilled about getting back to the big leagues and getting an opportunity to pitch. Here's what Lane told Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune following the game:
"It can't get better than that, and I couldn't have expected that," he said. "I'm just really grateful for the opportunity. There was a heck of a lot of hard work and a lot of ups, and it just means a lot. The more I think about it, I start getting a little emotional, because there were a lot of times where it didn't look so good and I just kept grinding. For it to work out like this is pretty cool."
What a great story. Congrats to Lane for sticking to it, working hard to create a second career for himself as a pitcher, and being rewarded with a call-up. That's not something a player does unless he truly loves the game.