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Thursday, February 09, 2023

Push-button pitching: MLB to let pitchers call own signals

In yet another nod to new technology, Major League Baseball will permit pitchers in spring training to wear wristbands that will let them signal to the catcher what’s coming next.

The experiment that will begin Feb. 24 when exhibition play begins with Seattle-San Diego and Texas-Kansas City matchups in the Cactus League. All 30 teams are scheduled to be in action the next day.

It’s an extension of the PitchCom system that MLB teams were allowed to employ last season, when catchers could push buttons on their wristbands to call for fastballs, curves, changeups and anything else, along with the location. The pitcher would then hear the result on an earpiece inside his hat.

Now, pitchers can make the calls themselves.

MLB will evaluate how things go and then decide whether to approve it for the regular season, executive vice president Morgan Sword said Thursday.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 09, 2023 at 07:51 PM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sign stealing

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   1. Greg Pope Posted: February 10, 2023 at 09:00 AM (#6116391)
This makes perfect sense. The only reason the catcher is the one to call pitches is because he's the one behind the batter. The pitcher is always the one who should have been in charge of selecting the pitch, it just wasn't practical before this technology.
   2. dejarouehg Posted: February 10, 2023 at 11:00 AM (#6116404)
It's about time. Should help speed things up, especially for guys like Chris Bassett. Curious as to who would get to "listen" in. Presumably it would be the same cast of characters - C - 2B - SS - but will they allow the manager/pitching coach? I assume there are a couple of teams where the PC still tries to call pitch selection.

Regardless, this is an improvement.
   3. Craig in MN Posted: February 10, 2023 at 01:21 PM (#6116418)
Is pitchcom data begin logged and shared? It seems like teams would be interested in having that source call data to match with statcast data. Maybe not on the fly and in public, but after the fact in limited ways. Teams could determine that some pitchers/catchers struggle with delivering a certain pitch in a certain location, and being able to pinpoint the times when it did and didn't work based on the combination of the pitch called and the results. And the data could help make statcast data better too, if they know the pitch was supposed to be a breaking ball that didn't break, etc.
   4. Ron J Posted: February 10, 2023 at 01:45 PM (#6116422)
#1 Weaver's pitchers called their game. Drove Rick Dempsey nuts.
   5. Greg Pope Posted: February 10, 2023 at 02:03 PM (#6116425)
#1 Weaver's pitchers called their game. Drove Rick Dempsey nuts.

I'm not familiar with this. How did they actually communicate?
   6. Rough Carrigan Posted: February 10, 2023 at 02:33 PM (#6116429)
Doyle Alexander would get a signal from the catcher, say 2 and swipe at his uniform above the waist to add one, now he's calling for 3 or below the waist to subtract one, now he's calling for 1, a fastball.
   7. Ron J Posted: February 10, 2023 at 03:02 PM (#6116433)
#5 ESP.

Weaver actually didn't discuss the specifics. I think it was as simple as a sequence on the shake off. Fastball to curve or something like that.

   8. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 10, 2023 at 07:26 PM (#6116455)
The signal for a knockdown pitch might be somewhat self-incriminating.
   9. karlmagnus Posted: February 10, 2023 at 08:33 PM (#6116461)
Cricket bowlers call their own pitches (with occasional intervention from the captain.) It's then up to the wicket keeper/catcher to watch the pitch and react to catch it -- he would have to do that anyway, even if he was calling it, because it bounces on the ground before it gets to him. If it's a fast bowler, the wicket keeper stands back 3-4 yards, however, which he can't in baseball.
   10. Ben Broussard Ramjet Posted: February 11, 2023 at 08:17 AM (#6116481)
If it's a fast bowler, the wicket keeper stands back 3-4 yards, however, which he can't in baseball

A lot further than that, in fact, although the view is foreshortened on the most common TV angle. 20 yards for the fastest bowler. Now, if you're "Jack" Russell, your reactions were so good that you might get a lot closer in order to cramp the batsman's style.

Incidentally, there's not much better in sports commentary than hearing an Australian get their teeth into "that's an ABSOLUTE RIPPA!".
   11. The Duke Posted: February 11, 2023 at 12:53 PM (#6116505)
I doubt a lot of pitchers would be successful doing this. Some would. I'm used to Yadi being behind the plate and I've read 100 interviews from pitchers saying they don't even think about which pitch to throw and just trusted him this allowing them to focus on execution
   12. Walt Davis Posted: February 11, 2023 at 04:08 PM (#6116541)
I assume they're keeping the existing tech so it's more about giving teams a choice and to maybe speed up the whole shaking off thing. With the pitch clock, you don't want to waste time with the catcher giving the signal 2-3 times especially with a runner on 2nd. Still, all much easier if it's just the pitching coach calling it using the tech ... although I suppose then they'll need a specific pitch-calling coach.

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