This season marks the 25th anniversary of one of the biggest accomplishments in Major League Baseball history during the course of one season when St. Louis Cardinals utility player Jose Oquendo played every position in a single campaign.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders have their own super utility player that might one day lead to a similar feat. Addison Maruszak, who has been seeing time mostly at shortstop and second base for the RailRiders, has all the attributes and even carries several different gloves where he goes.
“I hope if I do it (play every position in the Majors), it’s all just an inning thing and if it happens it happens,” Maruszak said. “That’s the last of my worries right now. I don’t want to think about that.”
Maruszak, 26, has already played five positions this season for the RailRiders seeing time at first base, second base, third base, shortstop, left field and rightfield. Being a jack of all trades or “the secret weapon” – like Oquendo’s former Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog referred to his do-anything player – is a job Maruszak knows he will have when he gets the call to the Majors and he’s ok with that.
“This is probably going to be my role in the big leagues that’ll at least get me there,” he added. “And if you do good you start playing. I know I’m probably not the typical prospect, the guy who’s gonna get up there and play every day. But when I do go up there, which I hope I do someday, I hope to do well enough to earn a starting spot because I’ve done this my whole career.”
Although he hasn’t used it yet this season, he also has a catcher’s glove in his bag that he carries on the road in case he’s needed to be the team’s emergency catcher. He has caught four games during his minor league career, all coming with Double-A Trenton in 2011.
“I actually enjoyed it, but it’s not my strongest position. But I do have faith in myself back there…I enjoy it,” Maruszak about being able to put on the equipment and stoop down behind the plate and call a game.
While he’s seen time in right field, he hasn’t played in center during his career. The only other position in addition to those two he’s never done during his professional career is get on the mound and pitch. He’s lobbied a few times, but hasn’t been granted the wish yet, unlike Oquendo who pitched twice for the Cardinals, one outing going four innings.
“I think about it like if we’re winning by a lot or losing by a lot,” he noted. “But every time I get a chance to do that the managers won’t let me do that. They think I’m going to throw as hard as I can and they don’t want me to blow (my arm) out.”
Maruszak says his strongest position right now is shortstop because he’s constantly working with coach Frank Menechino on how to improve.
But recently his best attribute has been at the plate. Maruszak, who has been a slow starter throughout his minor league career, is starting to heat up with the weather. On May 17, he entered a game with Columbus hitting just .194. Since then, he’s been on a tear, hitting safely in 16 of 18 games and raising his average more than 50 points to .245 by hitting at a .322 (20-for-62) clip during the current stretch.
“I don’t know why I’m a slow starter but I did decent, but I hit a little skid again and it’s just coming out of that and having the Yankees have faith in me, which they do and it’s showing because I’m playing through certain situations and I’m grateful for it,” he said. “So just keep swinging like I’m swinging and good things will happen.”
And positive things could continue to happen while he’s wearing many gloves as well.