Each player has a role to fulfill on the field.
The catcher has three (3) responsibilities:
- Catching each pitch the batter does not make contact with and throwing it back to the pitcher.
- Preventing baserunners from scoring runs who are advancing to home plate from 3rd base by getting them out.
- Signaling to the pitcher what pitch should be thrown.
Catcher Signals (Battery)
Not only is he responsible for catching each pitch the batter does not make contact with, but he also signals to the pitcher what pitch should be thrown. If you watch the catcher carefully before a pitch, you will notice the catcher's non-glove hand in between his legs, making signs with his fingers. Each finger sign corresponds to a specific pitch that the pitcher can either nod at (giving his approval and throwing the appropriate pitch) or shake his head (disagreeing with the catcher's suggestion). This strategic communication makes pitcher-catcher chemistry especially crucial for the team's success.
Framing The Pitch
Another strategy that catchers use is called framing the pitch. Framing the pitch is the act of making pitches that are at the edge of the strike zone look more like definite strikes. This can be done with many methods; some examples are catching the ball closer to home plate rather than closer to your body, and not visibly reaching or stabbing at the ball. The best catchers in the game have the ability to frame the pitch well.
Catcher Physical Characteristics
Catchers need strong legs and strong arms. While playing defense, they are almost constantly in a squatting position. After receiving a pitch, they can throw out runners who try to steal bases, and need a strong arm in order to out-throw the speedy runners. We will learn more about stealing bases in future chapters.
Catchers can get injured fairly easily. They can be hit by a pitch, sometimes even in the head or face. If the catcher has the ball and a runner is advancing from third base to home plate, the catcher blocks home plate by placing himself on the runner's base path right in front of home plate. In these cases, the runner could collide into the catcher, causing injury.