Friday, December 15th, 2017

Catchers: Don’t ever make this mistake

June 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Catching, Pitching

At the major league level, catchers get no discretion when it comes to whether balls thrown in the dirt can be tossed back to

A pitcher's best friend!

the pitcher.  There is no shortage of baseballs at that level so every time a pitch hits the dirt, the ball is immediately removed from the game and replaced with a new one.  The reason for this is simple.  MLB pitchers can work magic with a ball that has even the slightest nic, scratch, or scuff on it.

Below the high school level, pitchers generally do not throw with enough spin and velocity to get the scuff to do anything for them.  Couple that with the fact that young leagues do not have enough funds for unlimited baseballs and the umps will allow a practically destroyed ball to still be put into play.  Even high school and college levels will allow more than a few battered balls to remain in the game.

Here is where a catcher can get himself in trouble.  A pitch is thrown in the dirt and a scuff appears.  The catcher than asks the umps for a new ball.  The reaction of some pitchers is “Are you kidding me?  What are you doing?”  The message is clear for catchers.  

Don’t ever volunteer a scuffed ball over to an umpire. 

That’s the pitcher’s job.  If he can use it to his advantage, allow him to.  Keep in mind that your job as a catcher is to help make your pitcher as good as he can be.  A little more movement on his pitches is usually more than a little helpful.  Stop thinking like a hitter and keep that ball in play.  Let the pitcher decide if he wants to keep that ball.  I’ve seen pitchers give up a scuffed ball because it moved too much and was hard to control.  The point is, the pitcher decided when to remove the ball, not the catcher.

The proper thing for the catcher to do in a situation where he knows a scuffed ball is in play is to get the ball removed after the third out is made by not rolling the ball out to the mound after strike three or telling the first batter up for his team to get the ump to check the ball before the inning starts.

Many pitchers will not mind if a catcher controls what pitches are called for.  They will mind when the catcher tries to control what ball is being used.

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