Eight years after he threw his 223rd and final inning with Ohio State, J.B. Shuck got a chance to pitch in the major leagues. And he got to do something he’ll probably tell his kids about someday.
The White Sox reserve outfielder was called upon to pitch the ninth inning of Wednesday night’s 11-4 blowout loss to the Washington Nationals. Shuck gave up a leadoff double to Danny Espinosa, but settled down to retire Ben Revere, Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper on groundouts, though Espinosa did come around to score.
Getting Harper out, though, qualified as a highlight even if Shuck somewhat downplayed it after the game.
“We’ve been on the other end and facing a position player is never easy,” Shuck said. “It’s not even that fun. So I’m sure (Harper) was probably not taking it too serious.
“But I’ll be able to tell my kids that when he’s probably in the Hall of Fame some time.”
Shuck became the first position player to pitch for the White Sox since Leury Garcia and Alexei Ramirez both took the mound Sept. 15, 2015. He said of the 13 pitches he threw, 12 were fastballs and one was a breaking ball. His fastball sat between 88 and 91 miles per hour, just as it did in college.
Shuck threw 223 1/3 innings over his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons at Ohio State, compiling a 3.87 ERA with 192 strikeouts, 100 walks and 19 home runs allowed. He started 37 of his 41 collegiate games and fired two complete games.
His best year was in 2006, in which he had a 2.51 ERA over 79 innings as the Buckeyes’ fourth starter and was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Shuck earned his first career victory Feb. 26, 2006 when he beat future Kansas City Royals All-Star right-hander Aaron Crow and Missouri (Washington’s starter Wednesday night, Max Scherzer, was also on that Mizzou team).
The 28-year-old did pitch before as a professional, throwing one scoreless inning while in the Houston Astros’ farm system with Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2012. Giving up pitching was tough, Shuck said, but he ultimately made it to the majors on account of his hitting ability.
“I really enjoyed pitching,” Shuck said. “But I was ready to do whatever the team that drafted me wanted me to do. The Astros wanted me to hit, so I was ok with it and that’s what I did.”