March 2 (UPI) — Theo Epstein‘s career success despite his youthful age should no longer fool anyone.
But not many people expected his batting practice display recently at Chicago Cubs spring training. The Cubs president, who led the franchise to break its 108-year World Series curse last season, lined up in the batters box to take pitches Wednesday in Mesa.
“‘Demp’ is facing the Dominican Republic next Thursday, so he needs to get stretched out and face hitters,” Epstein said Wednesday, via the Chicago Tribune. “So he asked if he could come here and we could grab a few hitters so he could pitch like a simulated game. So of course we said yes, because he’s part of the organization and we’re pulling for him.”
Dempster, who joined Epstein in the Cubs’ front office two seasons ago, threw five pitches to Epstein. One resulted in a single, while another impressed everyone. After firing in a pitch, Dempster watched Epstein turn his offering into a double to the opposite field.
“I know I can’t hit big-league pitching, but I’ll see if I can hit you,” Epstein yelled to Dempster before stepping into the box, via CSN Chicago.
Epstein played high school baseball.
“It was fun,” Epstein told the Tribune. “Demp’s a great guy and funny, and I thought it would be fun to jump in there. We were talking smack to each other.”
“I would never jump in there against one of our real pitchers. So just kind of a fun opportunity to do so.”
Epstein said facing Jake Arrieta or Jon Lester wouldn’t have been a good idea.
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) March 1, 2017
“Third at-bat, ground single to left or groundball to short — depends who’s playing shortstop. Fourth at-bat, opposite field double. It was crushed, so I pimped it. Last at-bat, Demp wised up and threw me all splits and punched me out swinging. He still has a good split. And I still know my place…upstairs,” Epstein wrote in an email to ESPN.
Dempster, 37, announced his retirement in 2014. He is pitching for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic.