Summer Instruction Series: Catcher Communication 1

Jerry WeinsteinBy JERRY WEINSTEIN
Coach/Colorado Rockies

Catchers must always be in communication with defensive players.

Here is how I suggest they work with pitchers, umpires and infielders.

To Your Pitchers
1. Subtle body language mechanical reminders.

2. No more than one simple verbal cue.

3. Positive reinforcement whenever necessary and appropriate.

4. Remind the pitcher before the pitch to get over to first base with a left-handed pull hitter up.

5. Get pitcher off the mound whenever the ball is hit. It’s especial important on balls hit to the right side. (“Get over there” loud and early.)

6. Make sure that the pitcher knows who he is working with on come backers. Make sure that the pitcher is reminded to throw to second on a come backer with runners on first and second with less than two outs or to second with runners on first and third with one out.

With runners on first and third and no one out, the dugout should tell you where they want a come backer to the pitcher thrown. It’s usually to second unless it’s late in the game. Just find out before the pitch.

Occasionally the dugout will want you to come home with one out and runners on first and third base on the running speed of the batter-runner or on a 3-2 count when the runner on first will most likely be running.

You must help the pitcher react to this situation if the runner from third does not break and there is no play at second.

Make sure that the pitcher stops the runner at third before he throws to first base.

1. Make sure the pitcher knows when the first baseman is playing behind a runner on first.

2. Remind the pitcher to stop especially with a runner on third and he is pitching out of the stretch. This should be a subtle sign or verbal so as not to heighten the umpire’s awareness and lead to a balk being called.

Use something other than “make sure to stop” or hold your hands at your waist.

1. When the pitcher is winding up with a runner on third, remind him to look the runner back at third before starting his windup.

2. Bases loaded and less than two outs remind the pitcher to come home on a comebacker.

3. With a runner on third or a runner on second and less than two outs, remind the pitcher to look the runner back before throwing to first base.

To Your Infielders
1. Give the infielders the outs frequently both verbally and visually.

2. Remind the corner infielders when base hit bunters are up.

3. Let all the infielders know when there is a plus runner at the plate.

4. Tell corner players to throw home or to second with the bases loaded and less than two outs.

5. Check “no doubles” positioning and make sure infielders have told the outfielders to keep the hitter off of second base.

6. Make sure that the defense is not way out of position based on the pitch call.

7. Give the infielders a dive reminder with a runner on second.

8. Three-two count and two outs and the force one, remind infielders to throw the ball to first base.

9. Subtle hand signal to middle infielders to heighten their awareness to delay without alerting the offensive team that you are ready for a delayed steal.

10. Remind third baseman that you’ll be at third base if he fields a bunt with a runner on first.

11. Remind first and third basemen of their cutoff and relay responsibilities.

12. When there is no possible play at the plate, go down the fence line and help the corner infielders on foul pops down the lines and near the fence.

To The Umpire
1. Non-confrontational discussions regarding pitches. No one should be aware of your conversation. (Do not turn around and don’t change your body language. Call him by his first name, never “Blue.”) If you show up an umpire, he’ll eventually win and you’ll lose. Umpires share information within their fraternity, so an overly aggressive confrontation with one umpire or umpiring crew is known to all.

2. Remind him to make sure the batter-runner is in the running lane the last 45 feet to first base when the bases are loaded and there is a potential force play at home.

3. Ask for an early and loud call when there are runners on first and third or first and second and there is a three ball count on the batter. The exception would be a 3-2 and 2 outs. So you are not needlessly throwing to second base or third base on a close pitch.

There is a fine line between community and over communication. If it slows the game down or people stop listening, you are probably over communicating.

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