One of the more interesting stories heading into spring training was Micah Owings' efforts to make the ultra-rare switch from major-league pitcher to major-league hitter. Well, it's going really well! Sort of. Here's the latest, via the Washington Post's James Wagner:
In a 6-3 win Thursday over the Houston Astros, he played left field again and then crushed an opposite field grand slam on an outside pitch from John Ely. It was his second home run of the spring. In 19 at-bats, Owings, who missed some time with a wrist injury, is hitting .368 with three doubles and eight RBI. While he won’t exactly admit it, Owings has some early proof that perhaps he made the right decision in make the switch.
Despite Owing’s feel-good story, he won’t make the Nationals opening day roster. But because of his strong performance, Johnson believes Owings will serve as part of the team’s depth in Class AAA Syracuse. He could serve as a right-handed bat off the bench, either at first base or in the outfield.
I really haven't been following this story since Owings first announced the switch, and hooked on with the Nationals. But wouldn't this make a lot more sense if he were still pitching some? This all started last season, when he suffered a strained forearm and didn't heal as quickly as he'd have liked. So he asked his then-employers (the Padres) if he could give hitting a shot, and they said okay because they didn't have anything to lose.
Isn't the forearm better by now?
Granted, Owings hasn't been a good pitcher in quite some time; but his relief work in 2011 and (briefly) '12 suggests that he wouldn't be the worst sixth or seventh reliever. And if that guy could also play passably well in left field, and throw in some power as a sixth- or seventh-inning pinch hitter? Seems like then you'd have something.
Of course you can't make Micah Owings pitch if he doesn't want to pitch, and one gets the impression that he just doesn't want to worry about both jobs, each of which is big enough. I'm just not sure he's going to be a good enough hitter to survive in the majors, doing just that.