Garrett Christman is accustomed to doing a little bit of everything on the baseball field, so his role for the La Crosse Loggers this summer is one with which he is very familiar.
Nearing the Northwoods League All-Star break and now past the 50-game mark, the junior from Butler has transitioned into being the Loggers’ only true utility option.
Christman owns a 2-2 record in seven starts while eating up almost 40 innings. He is also batting .282 with four doubles, two home runs and 14 RBI.
After Grant Judkins left to play with Iowa in the University Games and Matt Morales signed a contract with the Kansas City Royals organization, the Loggers’ staff shifted Christman to the utility role he was filling at the start of the summer. Christman, who starts at third and pitches in the starting rotation for Butler, was one of the first Loggers on the roster this summer. He transitioned from starts on the mound to starts in the infield, until the entire roster had arrived before settling into a simpler role as pitcher and designated hitter.
Since the departure of Judkins and Morales, Christman has played just about everywhere in the infield. On Saturday night, he got the start at first base. Being both a pitcher and position starter is unusual in most levels of baseball, and unheard of in the major leagues, so Christman is happy he’s still getting the chance to do it.
“I’ll do it (play both ways) as long as I can,” Christman said, “until hopefully a professional team tells me I can’t.”
Christman, whose dad is a scout for the San Francisco Giants, said he started seeing the ball very well around mid-June, and has since been in a groove as a hitter. He has six hits in his last three games, going 3-for-3 with a solo home run Friday night against Mankato. Christman also had an RBI single Saturday night against the Eau Claire Express.
Christman says there is some advantage to being a pitching hitter, in terms of anticipating what pitches to look for in certain counts.
“I’ve hit and pitched pretty much my entire life,” said Christman “So I kind of have a sense of what pitch I’d throw to myself to get me out.”
The extra boost Christman provides the Loggers’ lineup is welcomed in a period when pitching is still a struggle for La Crosse. Before Saturday night, La Crosse had played 14 games in July, and 10 of those were one-run games.