When the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Jordan Schafer to a minor league contract yesterday, it appeared as if he would just be nothing more than a fourth outfielder. Apparently, that’s not the case.
According to Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) of MLB.com, the Dodgers are also going to try Schafer out as a reliever. On top of that, it seems the team is going to make the pitching aspect a bigger priority.
As Gurnick notes, the team plays on trying him in a ‘hybrid role’ during spring training:
The Dodgers envision Schafer in a hybrid role as a defense-first center fielder and a left-handed reliever, with the emphasis on pitching.
Schafer has not pitched once during his professional career, but he was a pitcher all the way back in high school. The transition will not be an easy one, especially when you factor in that he hasn’t taken the mound in about 12 years.
This seems like nothing more than a novelty act to give him a better chance to make the team, but with left-handed relievers being such a valuable entity there’s no telling how far this endeavor could take him if he actually succeeds. And the Dodgers could reap the benefits of this test run.