Catcher is an important position in baseball. Catchers are considered fielders, and are responsible for fielding around home home plate. The catcher squats behind home plate, in the catcher's box. He receives the pitches that the pitcher throws, and tosses the ball back to the pitcher after a pitch. The batter faces the pitcher located on the pitcher's mound. The catcher and umpire are positioned behind the batter. The catcher stands in the catcher's box with rules governing his movement. The umpire stands behind the catcher and dictates play with his calls.
The catcher has a few responsibilities on the field:
- Catching each pitch the batter does not make contact with and throwing it back to the pitcher.
- Preventing base runners 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.
- Catchers play a pivotal role when a base runner steals a base, by throwing the ball to the baseman
Catcher Signals (Battery)
The catcher and pitcher duo is referred to as the 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 Traits
Catchers need strong legs and strong arms. While playing defense, they are almost constantly in a squatting position. Catchers must have a high tolerance for pain and strong legs. 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. Catchers should also have good timing and quick release on their throwing arm
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.