KANSAS CITY -- A position player taking the mound and throwing pitches is typically an unusual, once-in-a-career event.
But for Mitch Maier, it's becoming routine.
With the Royals trailing, 13-5, against the Indians on Sunday, Maier moved from center field to the mound and pitched a scoreless ninth inning. It was the second career pitching appearance for Maier, who recorded a scoreless inning last July against the Red Sox.
"We were obviously running thin in our bullpen," Maier said after the game. "[Luke Hochevar] got hurt the other night, we needed our long guy that night. And then last night and today. It happened to me last year in Boston, the same situation. Just go out there and eat an inning for the team."
Maier did more than just eat an inning. He faced the minimum three batters, giving up one hit, which was quickly erased on an inning-ending double play.
Maier's appearance could almost be classified as necessary after the workload the bullpen had in the series against Cleveland.
In three games, no Royals starter recorded an out past the fourth inning. Two relievers pitched five innings on Friday in relief of Hochevar, and six men combined for 7 1/3 innings on Saturday after Jonathan Sanchez made an early exit. Sunday's starter, Luis Mendoza, was pulled early with none out in the fifth inning, leaving plenty of work for the Kansas City bullpen.
"Rather have me throw than burn another bullpen guy," Maier said. "We've got another series coming up [Monday against the Tigers], so we need everyone fresh."