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The Mariners apparently have no emergency catcher

Jun 29, 2011, 1:02 PM EDT

Chris Gimenez

I missed this because, really, I had no idea that baseball took place after 11PM Eastern time.  But in last night’s Braves-Mariners game, the M’s had a catcher fiasco.  Miguel Olivo left early due to cramps in his hamstring and the backup catcher, Chris Gimenez, strained his oblique in the fifth inning.

Gimenez could apparently still catch the ball — he stayed in the game — but when he came up to bat in the 7th inning with two runners on and two outs in a one-run game, he did something strange:  he tried to bunt.  And he struck out, watching strike three go by. Here was Eric Wedge’s explanation:

“I tell you what, Chris really sucked it up,” Wedge said. “We had to keep him back there because we needed a catcher. In that situation there, we have him try to bunt for a hit. It was either two shots to get a bunt for a hit, otherwise he had to take it like a man and just hope that he walked him.”

Or, in a close game, with runners on, when you’re still in the race for the playoffs, you could, you know, pinch hit for him?  And hope that your emergency catcher — which every team has, right? — can handle two innings behind the plate?

So, which was it, Wedge: was this not an emergency, or do you not have an emergency catcher?

  1. cur68 - Jun 29, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    Cur “El Gaucho” Molina68 is sitting by his phone, catcher’s gear on, waiting. Waiting for the call…

    • yankeesfanlen - Jun 29, 2011 at 1:29 PM

      Would a knock on the door startle you? Cather’s gear can be quite immobilizing.

      • cur68 - Jun 29, 2011 at 3:54 PM

        After nearly 20 years in emergency, joint surgery, PICU, NICU and teaching gigs, nothing startles me anymore. Mores the effing pity; I could do with a nice surprise (as in “Surprise! I’m your strip-a-gram! You can call me Jessica. Jessica Alba”. That would be a nice surprise). I wear the gear not only in hopes of playing in a real MLB game but also to answer the door to religious folks, salespeople, and my ex-wife. And, if we can judge anything by that last visitor, it seems I can move well enough to duck a high hard one.

      • wlschneider09 - Jun 29, 2011 at 4:24 PM

        /knock knock/

        “Hi! I’m your stripper gram! You can call me Gator, Old Gator….”

      • cur68 - Jun 29, 2011 at 4:30 PM

        ….and wlschneider09 WINS! ROFLMAO

  2. Richard In Big D - Jun 29, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    Every team has a whole BUNCH of emergency catchers. This group is more commonly referred to as “the bullpen”. Every pitcher that’s made it to the high school level has squatted and caught the ball workong out with his felloe pitchers, throwing the ball back to the mound after each rep. He also has an arm strong enough to make a decent throw to second base, and he knows the signs. You start with the lamest mop-up guy, and work your way up the food chain from there. But I must caution: It’s NEVER a good idea to use an emergency catcher for strategic reasons. That’s why they call it “emergency”.

    • hittfamily - Jun 29, 2011 at 1:40 PM

      You must have played on a bad high school team. As someone who played D-1 baseball, I can tell you I was a bull pen pitcher who has never “squatted down and caught the ball workong with felloe pitchers”. We do long toss together, shag bp together, and run together, but bullpen work was left to a pitcher, catcher, and coach. A pitcher wouldnt know the first thing about being a catcher. Hell, most of them havent worn a cup since high school. You are just making things up when you say the bull pen is full of backup catchers.

      • bennyblanco1 - Jun 29, 2011 at 1:56 PM

        I agree. But it is surprising that no one else on the team has any experience catching. U figure that at least one guy on the roster could squat for 2 innings.

      • hittfamily - Jun 29, 2011 at 2:11 PM

        Oh I agree that it is crazy that no POSITION player was willing to give it a shot. I just had to respond to the asanine idea that just because a pitcher can throw the ball back to the pitcher and has a good enough arm to throw to second, that makes him an ideal candidate to be an emergency catcher. Relief pitchers are the worst, absolutely worst, athletes on the team. Horrible hitters, horrible fielders. The backup infielder is the first choice, and a relief pitcher is somewher behind the hot dog vender.

      • Richard In Big D - Jun 29, 2011 at 2:11 PM

        I know that in the off-season, my son, who is a very good high school pitcher on a very good high school tem, will get together with a fellow pitcher, and they will take turns throwing bullpens with each other. Given that they know signs, understand the strike zone and how to use it, and generally have stronger arms than most of the rest of the team, it’s a natural backup plan. I never said it was ideal, but after all your real catchers are used up, where would YOU go next? And yes, I’ve seen this done, including my son having caught a handful of innings over his career…

      • hittfamily - Jun 29, 2011 at 2:24 PM

        Well, maybe you are right. I mean, relief pitchers do know the signs. BWAh ha ha ha. Because most players over 13 dont know 1 is fastball, 2 is curve, 3 is change. Dude, just stop, you are beat. Your kid catches other pitchers because there is nobody else available to catch, not because it is the norm. In college, there are 15 redshirts running around hoping to catch a bullpen.

        Every major leaguer, Johnny Damon included, has the arm to throw it 120 feet to second.

    • hittfamily - Jun 29, 2011 at 5:16 PM

      I re-read my posts and I sound like a jerk. I am sorry for that.
      You are right about being able to sub a pitcher for a catcher at the high school level. Most of the pitchers on a high school team are the best players on the field. When they arent pitching, they play a position. However, at the next level, whether it be JUCO, NAIA, D2,D1, or low level minors, they stop playing the field, with a few rare exceptions. I have never played pro, but did pitch JUCO and D1, and in my experience in practice and pregame was this: Set up roll on cage, shag in the outfield, hit fungo to infielders/outfielders, run, throw long toss, short bullpen with a catcher and pitching coach.

      We were the least skilled players on the field because we didnt practice or do the same drills as everyone else. Looking back on it, we did catch a few short bullpens in the fall (around 45-50 feet), where the pitcher was working on delivery, sidesteps, motion, etc, throwing 50%. We sat on upside down 5 gallon buckets. When a ball was in the dirt, we bailed (Think Johhn Kruk/Randy Johnson bail). We literally never practiced any skills useful to any other position with the exception of PFP once a week (pitcher fielding practice).

      My point is that at low levels, we did nothing useful. I dont think that major league relievers are doing anything in the realm of catching a 90 mph splitter. The risk of injury is just too high to justify a pitcher catching…practice or game. A middle infielder is the most obvious choice because his skills (good glove, fast hands, right handed) translate the best. After that any other skilled player.

      I remember Lou Piniella saying once that he would lose today to win tomorrow. Maybe this is just a great exmple of this. No one else got injured.

  3. shanemcdowell - Jun 29, 2011 at 1:46 PM

    Just more evidence of how Miguel Olivo is indispensable.

  4. dirtyharry1971 - Jun 29, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    just put ichiro behind the plate, heck he wins GG’s for positions he doesnt play so he must be that good

  5. Detroit Michael - Jun 29, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    Josh Bard is called up and is in today’s line-up.

    • cur68 - Jun 29, 2011 at 4:13 PM

      Baaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrdddd!!!!! (shakes fist futilely at the heavens)

  6. foreverchipper10 - Jun 29, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    Come on now Craig, what kind of Braves fan are you!? When they are on a west coast swing you need to pay attention. Disappointed I am. I at least had the crummy ESPN gamecast on my computer as I fell asleep to a rerun of Law and Order.

  7. leftywildcat - Jun 29, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    With Werth gone, the Phillies emergency catcher must be Wilson Valdez.

    An infielder is allowed to be the both the emergency closer and the emergency catcher, right?

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