HOUSTON -- Whether he was at shortstop or the outfield, the Reds have long loved Jerry Gil's throwing arm. His inability to hit has kept him from reaching the Majors. In an "if you can't beat 'em, join them" type of decision, Gil has turned in his bat to try to become a pitcher. He's been throwing with the Gulf Coast League Reds at the lowest rung of the Minors for about three weeks. "He's pitching now because of that slider," said Reds manager Dusty Baker, referring to the pitch Gil couldn't hit. "He'll make someone else's life miserable. They say he can throw 94-95 mph."
Baker was one of those impressed with Gil's defensive skills during his Spring Training at big league camp. But this season in 47 combined games at Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville, Gil was batting .168 with four homers and 24 RBIs. He missed most of last season because he had reconstructive elbow surgery and appeared in one big league game as a pinch-runner. In 2004, Gil appeared in 29 big league games with Arizona. He was traded to the Reds for Minor League pitcher Abe Woody in October 2006. "Jerry came to [Louisville manager] Rick Sweet and said he had lost confidence in hitting," Reds Minor League director Terry Reynolds said. "Knowing he had a good arm, he wanted to try pitching. We thought it was worth the time for him to give it a try." Gil has had two appearances with the GCL team, totaling 1 1/3 innings. His first outing was scoreless but he gave up three earned runs, three hits and two walks in his second game on Wednesday. The organization is more focused on Gil learning the mechanics of pitching and building arm strength. "The hope is that at some point before the summer ends, he will be with one of the full season teams," Reynolds said.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.