Spring training. Blue skies, green grass, and, for me, a new uni and new teammates. I met Pancakes. We’ve never seen each other except on TV. But we’re both members of the no-no club. The other two are in Lancaster. The biggest thing though is working with the new (to me) catchers.
Some people think that a pitcher is only there to throw the ball to the hitter and a catcher is only there to keep the ball from going to the backstop and slowing down the game. But it’s not like that at all. A pitcher is someone with the ball in his hand facing another guy with a stick of wood in his hand and the pitcher is trying to keep that guy from hitting the baseball solidly. Because if he hits it too many times, the pitcher will be out of a job. The pitcher throws with arm and brain and memory and bluff, all together to try to get the hitter out.
But the pitcher needs help. And that is where the catcher comes in. The catcher must help the pitcher and must also be brain and memory and bluff, not just someone to stop the ball if the hitter doesn’t. A catcher must be a pitcher’s eyes and ears, watching runners, watching wind, watching the board, watching signs and picking up everything that the pitcher might miss. The pitcher and catcher must work together to be effective.
So it’s important to spend a great deal of spring training getting to know the catchers on the team and letting them get to know me. Nobody wants me up there shaking off my battery mate too many times. Having him make unnecessary trips to the mound. Stuff like that.
And Bloom and Gofenberg are great guys. They call Bloom “Boomer” and Gofenberg “Superman”. Boomer got his name when he played football in college. He’s 5’9” and they list his weight at 215 but he’s heftier than that. He’s not fat, either. Let’s just say i wouldn’t want to get him mad at me. And Superman got his name because once he wore a shirt with an S on it that his girlfriend gave him. Of the two, Boomer has the better arm, but Superman has a better range. I expect if Boomer would spend a little less time in the weight room and a little more time working on flexibility, his range would improve.
The other thing I’m working a lot on is pick-off drills. Especially the throw to second base. Picking up the sign and counting in your head with the 2B or SS and then turning and throwing and there being someone there at second to catch the ball. That’s harder to coordinate than it sounds. But it could become important. People think you just throw over, but there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make it look that simple. They do it a little differently here than we did it in NJ. So it’s almost like learning it all over again.
While I’m here, I need to mention something. I love the unis here. The color is a nice change. In New Jersey, we wore gray and black. Here, though, there’s a lot of blue. Blue socks for instance. And the alternate jerseys are awesome. Now, my favorite color is red, but this blue looks pretty damned good.