Jason Lane found his way back to the big leagues at Petco Park Tuesday night. But he bypassed the on deck circle and instead made his impact on the mound. Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
The last time Jason Lane stepped onto a Major League diamond there were a few similarities to his return last night, and one glaring difference, of course.
The date was October 1, 2007 and Lane took the field as a member of the San Diego Padres, the first similarity to Tuesday night. Another similarity, Lane didn’t start that game either. He instead came in defensively to play center field in the 12th inning. That day, like yesterday, his role had him focused on the defensive side of things as he never came to the plate.
Of course the reason we’re talking about him today, the reason his teammates are gushing about him, is the glaring difference between his 2014 debut and his 2007 finale.
Jason Lane, the pitcher, made his debut last night with 3.1 perfect innings of relief. He threw 36 pitches, 26 of them for strikes, as he punched out three Pittsburgh Pirates.
The journey from outfielder to position player, or in common parlance, the ‘Reverse Rick Ankiel,’ began in full force in 2012. Lane had pitched occasionally all the way back to his first year in the minors in 2009 and even to his successful college days at USC. But it was in 2012 where he first appeared in more than 6 games in a season tossing 132 innings between the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League and the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The next year he began the season with Sugar Land before the Padres picked him up in July and sent him to Triple-A Tucson.
Over the past two seasons Lane appeared in 22 games making 17 starts over 110.1 innings pitched. Though his numbers were less than stellar, a 5.24 era in 2013 and a 4.36 through 11 games this year, the Padres believed Lane’s long trail back as a pitcher had provided him with something intangible that might just make him a success as a big league hurler.
Up the coast, another former position player, Sean Doolittle, is making an impact for the A’s out of the bullpen. He has turned the page from being a hitter and embraced his new role as a key cog setting up the back end of the Oakland pen. Whether Lane finds success in a role similar to that, or finds his way back as a starter, like he was in El Paso, or never records another out, no one can take away the successful conclusion to his amazing baseball journey. A journey that truly exemplified ‘Keeping the Faith.’