PHOENIX — The Diamondbacks‘ bullpen cart has finally made its maiden voyage.
The Diamondbacks have had the cart ready for use since Opening Day, but no reliever opted to take it in Arizona’s first 17 home games.
“It was there, they provided it for us, so I decided to give it a shot,” McHugh said. “I am still new to this whole bullpen thing so I don’t think I have too much of a routine to deviate from.”
McHugh changed that by hitching a ride around the warning track to begin the sixth inning. He was dropped off just outside Houston’s dugout, then walked the rest of the way to the rubber. All that saved energy proved useful, as McHugh pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings before handing off to Joe Smith, who journeyed to the mound on foot.
Arizona’s cart is the first known motorized vehicle used in the majors since 1995, when the Milwaukee Brewers shuttled pitchers in a motorcycle with a sidecar.
“I was kind of jealous,” Arizona reliever Archie Bradley said of McHugh going for a ride. “I’ve been wanting to use it, haven’t found the right time. But yeah, he’s the first guy to use it and maybe more guys will jump on. I’m going to keep jogging out.”
The Diamondbacks’ cart had previously been used to drop off pitchers during exhibition games at Chase Field before the season and in the regular season to deliver a pitcher’s warm-up jacket to the dugout for relievers to wear after their outings.
The Indians were the first to use a bullpen car — a “Little Red Wagon” in 1950 — and by the mid-1960s, much of the league had some sort of transportation for relievers to ride in on. Full adoption by most teams took place in the 1970s, and in the ’80s, the car was replaced by a golf cart.
MLB’s only rules regarding the bullpen cart are that it must be offered equally to home and visiting pitchers and that using the cart doesn’t grant the pitcher any extra warm-up time.
Information from ESPN’s Darren Rovell and The Associated Press was used in this report.