Rowdy Tellez is a large man—he’s listed at a robust 255 pounds on his MLB.com player page. Needless to say, Tellez, who is quietly in the midst of a career season (he leads the Brewers in both home runs and RBI), isn’t counted on for his base-running, ranking 490th out of 504 major-league qualifiers in average sprint speed. Of course, there’s something to be said for the element of surprise, which no doubt factored into the 27-year-old’s thinking against the Reds, ambitiously taking off for second base in the third inning of Friday night’s game at American Family Field in Milwaukee.
Not anticipating such boldness from a player with three career steal attempts and none since 2020 (back when he was still a Toronto Blue Jay), Reds catcher Michael Papierski stood frozen, too flummoxed to even entertain the thought of throwing to second base. Whether this was premeditated or a spur of the moment decision, Tellez couldn’t have picked a better time for his heist, with soft-throwing Robert Dugger on the mound for Cincinnati (his fastball averages just 89.7 mph) and a catcher who has struggled to hold runners all season, nabbing just five of 28 would-be base-stealers in 2022. Tellez himself couldn’t believe it, rejoicing in his second career theft and first since catching the Orioles snoozing in 2019.
It's been a chaotic week for the Brewers, who took a blowtorch to team morale by trading their All-Star closer Josh Hader to San Diego while falling into a first-place tie with the hated Cardinals. But nothing will bring together a fractured locker room like the novelty of a cement-footed slugger huffing and puffing his way to a rare stolen base. Tellez, who ranks ninth in the majors with 70 RBI (already a career-high for the 6’4” first baseman), went 1-for-3 with a two-run homer in a 5-1 triumph over the Reds, helping Milwaukee keep pace with St. Louis in a deadlocked NL Central.