An unfortunate moment in Monday night’s game against the Mariners put the Yankees into a semi-amusing situation. In a brutal bit of bad luck, Matt Carpenter fractured his foot after fouling a ball of it, leaving him out possibly for the rest of the season.
While that’s both a massive bummer and a potential big blow for the Yankees, it led to a situation that is going to look very weird in future years. Replacing him in the lineup was Tim Locastro, who not only took his spot at third in the order, but also his position of DH. Now, Locastro has some elite skills that’s led him to have a six-year career in the majors. It’s just that hitting isn’t really one of them. Not that he’s notably terrible, a career 83 wRC+ through Monday is below average but also not the worst you’ll see, it’s just that he’s with the Yankees for his speed and defense. While the Yankees were forced into it, putting him at the position when he can only somewhat use his speed and isn’t playing defense at all, is a bit amusing.
The main takeaway from that situation is the Carpenter injury, which is obviously very bad. However, it did get us into thinking about some of the other weirdest and most amusing players to end up playing DH for the Yankees.
While it’s less fun, let’s knock out some names that, like Locastro, came in during a game at the DH spot for whatever reason.
Just last year in a game against the White Sox, Jonathan Davis was sent in to pinch run for Giancarlo Stanton, as the Yankees looked for an insurance run, clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth inning. He didn’t end up scoring, and then in the bottom of the ninth, the White Sox tied the game, sending it to extra innings. Davis was set to be due up in the 10th, but luckily the Yankees picked up a couple runs before he stepped in. If they hadn’t, maybe the Yankees send someone else up as a pinch hitter, but with a three-run lead, Davis was allowed to hit, meaning he officially DHed in one at-bat for the Yankees. He grounded out, but thankfully, the Yankees had put up enough runs to come away with the win. Davis would finish his Yankee tenure with a -51 OPS+.
Other players who were mostly on the Yankees for defense but ended up playing and batting as DH after some sort of mid-game move include Brent Lillibridge, Ronald Torreyes, Gregorio Petit, Shane Robinson, and more.
There are four player who have at least one at-bat as a Yankee DH who also never recorded a hit at all in their career with the team. Marshall Brant, Rick Rhoden, Henry Rodríguez, and Scott Seabol all officially stepped to the plate as a Yankee DH, and not only went 0-for in those at-bats, but also didn’t ever record a hit with the team.
Let’s focus in on one name in particular in that list and also shift to some of the odd players who started a game at first base:
If you’re aware of Rick Rhoden, you may know that he is a pitcher. His tenure with the Yankees came from 1987-88, when the DH was well ensconced in the AL, and interleague play was still a decade away from starting. If you’re wondering if it was a scenario when a position player got injured and the DH moved to the field, leading to the Yankees losing that spot and the pitcher moving into the lineup, that’s not it. Manager Billy Martin just ... decided to put a pitcher in the starting lineup at DH.
Citing injuries and the Orioles starting left-handed pitcher Jeff Ballard and not wanting to use any lefty hitters at DH against him, Martin put Rhoden at DH and the seven spot in the lineup in a June 11, 1988 game against Baltimore. Rhoden himself was a bit surprised at the decision, and was the first pitcher to get put in at DH since the position had come into existence. He went 0-for-1, but did drive in a run on a sacrifice fly in his second plate appearance before being pinch-hit for in the sixth inning.
Rhoden, along with Henry Rodríguez, are the only members of the Yankees career 0-for list who started a game at designated hitter.
Other unexpected DH starters include Colin Curtis, Zelous Wheeler, Austin Romine, Luis Sojo, and more.
There are undoubtedly other who I’ve not mentioned or missed, so let us know your favorite unexpected and weird Yankee DHs.