With MLB’s pace of play being a hot topic over the past few years, the Arizona Diamondbacks have taken the initiative to speed up games by using a bullpen cart.
Bullpen carts were once a staple of baseball. For decades, they would take relief pitchers from the bullpen to the playing field. However, the carts were slowly phased out of the game, and they were last used during the 1995 season.
But this season, the Diamondbacks decided it was time to reinstate the bullpen cart. Their cart features an advertisement for one of the team’s sponsors, OnTrac, and is shaped like a Diamondbacks helmet on wheels.
The cart was first used by the Astros’ Collin McHugh last weekend, and he ended up throwing one and a third scoreless innings in relief.
But even with that performance, other pitchers were still a bit weary of messing up their normal routine of walking from the bullpen to the mound, so they declined the free ride.
Nationals pitchers Sammy Solis, Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler all turned down the ride during Thursday’s game in Arizona. However, closer Sean Doolittle just couldn’t pass up the offer, so he willingly jumped into the cart and rode to the mound.
Doolittle went on to pitch a scoreless inning, picking up his seventh save of the season. His teammates loved it, and Doolittle even had to put his glove over his mouth so as to not let everyone see he was laughing.
“I was up playing catch from like the eighth inning on. If we took the lead, I was going to go in the game. So after standing up there for so long, I was like, yeah, I’m definitely taking the cart. I’m not running in,” he said after the game, according to MASN.
While his inning of work was relatively uneventful, he admitted that the ride to the field was a bit scary after the driver floored it.
“We got to the infield, and I was like: ‘Stop before the dugout! Stop before the dugout! This is good!'” Doolittle said. “We kind of skidded a little bit. I didn’t mean to make an entrance like that.”
When the opportunity presented itself again during Friday’s game, though, Doolittle didn’t want to mess up a good thing, so he again took a ride in the cart.
This time, he received a standing ovation from his teammates.
Doolittle threw another scoreless inning Friday to collect his eighth save of the season.
The closer said he’s been pushing for the carts to come back for some time.
“I’ve been advocating for bullpen carts for a few years,” Doolittle said Thursday. “I think they’re a good idea. I think there’s a practical application for them. So I had an opportunity to try it out, and I think it was great.”
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