A Well-Earned Walk: Luis Guillorme Trots to First After 22 Pitches

It was only an exhibition, so nothing from the Mets’ 7-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday will count as more than an amusing oddity. But the Mets’ Luis Guillorme did something that just might be unprecedented: He saw 22 pitches in a single turn at the plate.

The odd event came in the fifth inning in Port St. Lucie, Fla., against the hard-throwing Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks. Guillorme fell behind on a called strike and a swinging strike. Then, over the course of 20 pitches, he swatted 16 fouls and took four pitches out of the strike zone, earning a satisfying trot to first as teammates roared with laughter.

“I’m just happy I ended up with the walk, because if I would have gotten out, that would’ve been not fun for me — all that work for nothing,” Guillorme said. “It’s pretty cool.”

Since pitch-count data became official in 1988, the most pitches in a single plate appearance is 21, by Brandon Belt of the San Francisco Giants against Jaime Barria of the Los Angeles Angels in 2018. That resulted in a flyout.

The twist on Sunday was that Hicks was making his first appearance in a game since June 2019, just before undergoing Tommy John surgery. It was also the first day that umpires would be enforcing the three-batter-minimum rule for pitchers in spring training. The Cardinals had planned to use Hicks for only 20 pitches or so.

“I thought, prior to the inning, ‘What happens if he has high pitch counts?’” Cardinals Manager Mike Shildt said. “That got answered pretty immediately.”

Hicks was not injured, but Shildt and a trainer appealed successfully to the umpires to let his workday end after one exhausting duel. Hicks, who threw as hard as 105 miles an hour as a rookie in 2018, said he planned to throw his slider Sunday when he got ahead in the count. He pumped plenty of strikes but said he could have been sharper.

“It is there enough to get a bunch of foul balls,” Hicks said, “but it’s not there as my putout pitch yet.”

Guillorme, a reserve infielder who batted .333 last season, made sure of that. As improbable spring training feats go, he said, Sunday’s still ranks behind his one-handed snag of an errant bat as he watched from the dugout in 2017. All he wanted to do, Guillorme said, was hit a ground ball up the middle.

“I was just trying to get the barrel out there and put the ball in play,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to do too much.”

What he did was perhaps enough to set a record — unofficially, anyway. When he came to bat again on Sunday, Guillorme did not come close to repeating it.

“It’s fascinating, though,” Shildt said. “The guy’s next at-bat, he lines out on the first pitch. But that’s baseball.”

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