Connor Donahue

Lowell Spinners’ Danny Bethea takes his career from behind the plate to the mound

Connor Donahue
June 13, 2018 - 3:27 pm

LOWELL -- When Danny Bethea takes the field for the first time this season for the Lowell Spinners, the short-season, Single-A affiliate of the Red Sox, he’ll have a bit of a different vantage point than what he’s used to.

Bethea, in his sixth season in the minor leagues since being drafted in 2013, has spent his entire career as a catcher. That’ll change this season when Bethea joins the Spinners’ bullpen.

“It’s a little different obviously, going from catcher to pitcher,” Bethea said when talking to the media Wednesday at media day. “It’s kind of wild how it happened but I’m grateful to continue my career as a pitcher. It’s going great so far.”

It’s an unorthodox switch.

The 28-year-old is coming off a season with the Sea Dogs where he batted .239 with two home runs and 11 RBI’s in 22 games. Bethea explained it was actually Portland who had the original idea to move Bethea to the bump.

“They let me pitch the last inning of the season last year and I guessed they liked what they saw,” Bethea explained. “They called me in the off season and asked if I would transition to a pitcher and I said, ‘Yeah let’s give it a go.’ That’s kind of how it happened. It was all pretty fast…it’s crazy.”

To make this move even more remarkable, Bethea has no history of pitching before the lone inning in Portland last season. He never once took the mound during his time at both St. John’s and Palomar College, or even back in high school at La Costa Canyon in California.

“I’ve never pitched in my life before [last season],” Bethea said. “I think I was in the bullpen [in Portland] one day talking to the pitchers about it and they said, ‘Let’s see what you got.’ And I guess it turned out to be better than anyone thought and better than what I thought. It just took off from there.”

It’s always tough to change positions; it’s even tougher to change positions at the age of 28. Bethea explained that what he lacks in pitching experience, he makes up for with all those years of experience from behind the plate.

“I loved being a catcher but, you know, it helps me as a pitcher,” Bethea said. “I know what hitters are looking for in what counts, and what their weaknesses are and how I can pitch to my strengths. I feel like I’m ahead of the curve in that sense, in what I’m looking to do each pitch.”

The righty explained that along with a fastball, he’s added a two-seam fastball, a changeup and a slider to his arsenal.

A new position also means a new player to model your game after. Bethea had to reconsider his answer for the first time on Wednesday.

“I always looked up to Joe Mauer, he was an offensive catcher and that’s what I wanted to be,” Bethea said. “But now as a pitcher…oh gosh, it’s so new to me I’ve never thought about it. I guess Kimbrel right? He’s the best reliever in the game right now.”

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