Apr 7, 2010, 5:15 PM EDT
Gentlemen: let’s broaden our minds.
All spring you heard about pitchers throwing “simulated games.” Today Amalie Benjamin reports that Clay Buchholz, who won’t get his normal turn in the rotation for a while, is throwing a simulated game. So, just what is a “simulated game?”
A lot of fun from the sound of it. Pitchers usually face two or three volunteer hitters from their own team (today Buchholz is facing Bill Hall, Jeremy Hermida and Jason Veritek). Hitters take their cuts against the pitcher’s full speed pitches with someone — often the catcher — calling balls and strikes. There are no fielders, however. A coach observing the game calls out the result of any given batted ball. A hot shot in the gap is a double. A grounder to where the shortstop would likely be standing is an out, etc.
If the hitter reaches safely the pitcher assumes the stretch and a ghost runner takes the base.* Once the pitcher retires the side he sits down and either takes a break long enough to approximate his own team’s half inning or, in some instances, another pitcher or a coach throws to the same three hitters and simulates the results. The whole thing usually ends when the desired pitch count for the simulated game is reached. Since Buchholz is on the Red Sox, though, it probably takes three hours and forty-eight minutes.
I saw a couple of simulated games in spring training and they looked like a lot of fun. Lots of good-natured trash talk between the pitcher and whoever was calling balls and strikes. Lots of pitchers claiming that hard hit balls were really outs due to amazingly acrobatic plays by their invisible defense. Basically, it sounds a lot like the sandlot games we used to play when we were little and couldn’t find enough kids to make full teams. I bet someone could do well setting up a simulated baseball league in which guys like me who think they can pitch a little go head-to-head (note: I can’t pitch, even a little).
Anyway, the more you know.
*Note: unlike my brother’s amazingly swift ghost runners during the
backyard games of our youth, simulated game ghost runners can’t score
from first on an infield single. Not that I’m still angry about it or
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