SEATTLE -- When inserted into the Mariners' series opener against the Athletics as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning, part of what Jeremy Reed heard from manager Jim Riggleman didn't immediately register. "He told me I was hitting [for Miguel Cairo] and asked, 'Do you have your first baseman's glove down here? You may need to go to first,'" Reed recalled on Friday night. "At that point, I'm concentrating on the at-bat, trying to get out there and make something happen. So, at that point in time, I was kind of concentrating on hitting. When I came off the field, I realized that I was going out there." So he rushed up the stairs into the clubhouse, grabbed a glove that had only been used in practice and went to first base for the first time since his sophomore year at Long Beach State.
"It all happened so fast. My only thought was just to try to make sure I catch the ball," he said. "The glove, I've been trying to work it in as fast as possible. It's kind of deep in the back of my mind about that and trying to make sure I catch everything." That part of the ninth inning went fine. He displayed deft footwork to catch a slightly off-target throw from second baseman Jose Lopez and snagged a pickoff throw from left-handed reliever Cesar Jimenez trying to nab Eric Patterson. That's when things went sour. Reed caught the throw, but his toss to second base was low and the ball went past shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and into left field for a throwing error, allowing Patterson to reach third. He eventually scored the Athletics' second run in a 2-0 Oakland victory. "I looked at that play and the throw wasn't that bad," Riggleman said. "Everything I have heard about Jeremy Reed was that he was an outstanding first baseman in college. I don't know how much he played since college but we've had him over there working. "It wasn't really fair for Jeremy to be put in that position. But it was either that or I wouldn't have anybody to pinch-hit with in the ninth. I made that decision and it ended up hurting us." Reed had been taking some ground balls at first base the past couple of weeks, but he said, "I think that's the one play that I never practiced." "It's kind of tough sometimes because they don't do PFPs [pitcher's fielding practice] very often," Reed said. "The thought [of a pickoff play with the runner moving] didn't even cross my mind. You can turn double plays, turn them off the bag, you can field ground balls, you can do whatever you do, but something like that, or a bunt play, or first and third, it just happened." The throw he made was low, but more times than not, Betancourt will scoop it out of the dirt. Not this time. "It was a crucial time in the game," Reed said, "and maybe that's why I sped up a little bit, because it was 1-0 and we still had a chance to come up in the bottom of the ninth and hit a home run to tie it or a two-run homer to win it." Reed was on the field early Friday night, working with the pitchers on PFP, not sure when -- or if -- he would ever be asked to play first base. Even so, he'll keep the first-base mitt handy, just in case he's needed. "I would put every effort into it," he said. "My mentality as a baseball player is, whatever you ask me, I'll do it." Reed was an outfielder at Long Beach State when, as a freshman, the team's first baseman was injured about halfway through the season. "I went over there because they didn't really have anybody else," Reed said. "I was playing there every day, every single day. That's basically all I was doing at that point, 100 ground balls a day. After my first year, I got pretty decent over there. I felt good over there. It's kind of weird to say, but the last time I was over there, [A's shortstop Bobby] Crosby was throwing balls to me. My sophomore year was his junior year." Reed said he actually enjoyed playing first in college, catching balls thrown into the dirt. But he never imagined that he would be playing first base at the Major League level. "It never really crossed my mind, when you have Richie Sexson there and you have Bryan LaHair and you have Cairo and Willie Bloomquist. You've got a bunch of utility guys that you never think that [playing first] would be the case. "I learned a lot. I wish the circumstances would have come out a little better."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.