PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) — Major League Baseball made game-calling more difficult for catchers this winter when it changed the rules governing mound visits. For backstops with the Tampa Bay Rays, things got even trickier when the club announced plans for a four-man rotation to open the season.
Pitching coach Kyle Snyder had an idea to help, and catchers Wilson Ramos and Jesus Sucre were eager to hop on board — quarterback-style wristbands loaded with information designed to help with pitch calling.
The Rays are joining the Indians, Mets and some others as teams arming their catchers with data-filled forearm sleeves. Tampa Bay hasn’t decided precisely what will be on the wristbands, though it will mostly include information on signs and strategies for attacking opposing hitters. The cards will have a flap to make sure opponents and cameras can’t catch what’s been written down.
“If you have all that on the wristband, it’s going to be a lot easier for you,” Sucre said.
Catchers like David Ross, Evan Gattis and Yasmani Grandal have used the wristbands to manage information in baseball’s big data era, but Rays manager and former catcher Kevin Cash downplayed the effect of that information on pitch calling.
The Rays’ wristbands are primarily a response to a rule change limiting mound visits to six per game, a shift that makes the already complicated task of relaying pitch calls all the more challenging. Catchers can be barred from going to the mound if a team has exhausted its allotment, and they’re not thrilled with the change — Martin Maldonado (Angels) and Willson Contreras (Cubs) have said they’d rather pay fines than limit their visits.
Teams use intricate sets of signs to disguise pitch selection when a potentially nosey baserunner is on second base, and not every pitcher employs the same systems. The Rays