Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein donned a helmet and picked up a bat during spring training on Monday, with impressive results.
Former Cubs starter and current team employee Ryan Dempster will make a brief return to baseball, playing for Canada in the World Baseball Classic. To help him warm up, his boss offered to take pitches from him.
In five pitches, Epstein managed a strong hit to right field and a ground ball, which may or may not have been a hit if fielders were on the receiving end.
“So give me .400,” Epstein said, per Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. “He was mixing me all his pitches and quickly found out I had no chance off his split-finger. After that at-bat he threw me all split fingers and punched me out.”
Epstein said he had not faced live pitching in 10 years and has not played competitively since high school. Before stepping up, Epstein joked that he couldn’t hit major league pitching, but could maybe hit Dempster.
From 2004 to 2012, Dempster played for the Cubs and posted a 67-66 record with a 3.74 ERA. He became an assistant to Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer after retiring in 2014.
Afterwards the showdown, Epstein answered whether he would take a pitch from Jake Arrieta.
“I would, but it wouldn’t be a good idea,” he said. “I might get smoked. Nothing good can come from that. I don’t think facing one of your own active pitchers would be a good idea, unless I got super lucky and hit a ball through the middle or something. That would not be good. I’d pull every muscle in my body.”