Sunday Notes: Joe Girardi and AJ Hinch Handle Backspinning Catchers


Toronto Blue Jays pitching prospect Hagen Danner is a transformed catcher who will get good journey on his four-seam fastball, and he attributes that high quality to his former place. Listening to that from the 23-year-old right-hander prompted me to ask Philadelphia Phillies supervisor Joe Girardi if what I used to be informed made sense.

“I can positively see that,” stated Girardi, who caught for 15 big-league seasons. “However I don’t suppose it’s a assure; some [catchers] have somewhat tail to their ball once they throw. At instances, I might have somewhat tail. However [Garrett] Stubbs actually will get beneath it, actually will get that spin. There are lots of catchers who do. It’s how we’re taught to throw.”

Good journey sometimes comes with a four-seam grip, however in contrast to pitchers, a catcher isn’t standing on a mound with ample time to control the baseball in his hand; he has to obtain the ball, make the switch, and do away with it as rapidly as doable. I requested the catcher-turned-manager about that as effectively.

“You don’t have time to get the grip, however ideally you wish to throw it straight,” stated Girardi. “And you’ll nonetheless throw it straight, just about, when you don’t have an ideal four-seam grip.”

Detroit Tigers supervisor A.J. Hinch is likewise a former catcher, so I requested him the identical questions I’d requested Girardi.

“True backspin is one thing that each catcher would need in each throw,” stated Hinch, who caught elements of seven big-league seasons. “For those who’re throwing to the bases — second and third — you’ll need the true backspin, which might assist the journey you’re speaking about. The vertical.”

As for attaining a four-seam grip prior to creating the throw, Hinch’s reply differed considerably from Girardi’s.

“You’ll be able to transfer the ball somewhat bit,” stated the Tigers supervisor. “You’re not going to sit down there and have a look at it, however a part of the artwork of the alternate is ensuring that you simply get grip. You strive, each time, to get a four-seam grip. You don’t have time to mandate it, however you’ll be able to strive. For those who watch guys play catch each single day, they’re all the time turning the ball.”


One of many pitchers Hagen Danner caught at Huntington Seashore Excessive Faculty is now a high-profile place participant prospect. Drafted 14th total by the Kansas Metropolis Royals in 2017, Nick Pratto heads into the 2022 season No. 47 on our Top 100 Prospects list. Each took the mound as preps.

“He threw 90-92 [mph], and his changeup is the nastiest factor I ever caught in highschool,” stated Danner, who’s No. 14 on our Blue Jays list. “He would positively pitch when you requested him to.”

It’s much more possible that the Royals will ask him to hit in the course of their lineup, probably as quickly as this summer season. Pratto is coming off a season the place he went deep 36 instances whereas placing up a 156 wRC+ between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha.

“He’s probably the greatest hitters in minor league baseball,” Danner stated of his good friend and former teammate. “He’s the neatest hitter up there. He’s bought pop and he places the bat on the ball. You see it within the numbers. He’s going to be Rookie of the Yr. I’m calling it proper now.”



Brock Holt is 11 for 18 in opposition to Dylan Bundy.

Jose Altuve went 0 for 13 in opposition to Bronson Arroyo.

Christian Yelich went 0 for 10 in opposition to Tim Lincecum.

Cotton Tierney went 9 for 13 in opposition to Clyde Barfoot.

Pete Kilduff went 9 for 18 in opposition to Virgil Cheeves.


The Pirates have been taking part in in Dunedin when it was reported that Trevor Story can be signing with the Boston Purple Sox. I used to be available, so I requested Pittsburgh supervisor Derek Shelton for his ideas on the division-impacting deal.

“The American League East is a beast,” stated Shelton. “I spent seven years there because the hitting coach in Tampa, and we’ve seen a number of groups in that division add to their group. What we’re seeing within the sport is flexibility of athletes; you’re seeing guys go locations and play totally different positions to make groups higher. Let’s use Toronto; we noticed Marcus Semien do it final yr — a man that was a shortstop and went and performed second base. Multi-positional athletes are crucial, and we’re seeing guys be prepared to do various things. The East goes to be a enjoyable division to observe this yr.”

It’s additionally a division that the Pittsburgh supervisor is completely satisfied to not be part of. “I don’t miss the American League East,” Shelton stated.”Under no circumstances.”


Sticking with the Pirates, Oneil Cruz is constant to lift eyebrows. The 6-foot-7 shortstop — Pittsburgh’s top prospect — has 5 hits in 11 spring coaching at bats, and two of them have left the yard. The primary, which I used to be available for, got here on a barely-ankle-high breaking ball that he golfed pull-side over the suitable area wall. Statcast measured the how-did-he-do-that? blast at 413 toes.

Earlier the identical day, Derek Shelton informed reporters that the 23-year-old Cruz has “achieved job at shortstop to date,” and also will see time time within the outfield earlier than the shut of camp (Cruz subsequently performed left area on Friday). As for when the group’s high prospect reaches Pittsburgh, solely time will inform.

“Oneil goes to have an effect on our membership this yr sooner or later,” stated Shelton. “When that’s, I don’t suppose any of us know.”


A quiz:

Who holds the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise file for many dwelling runs in a single season?

The reply to the quiz could be discovered under.



Andrew Miller introduced this week that he’s retiring after 16 big-league seasons. Notable not too long ago for his stellar work with the MLBPA, the 36-year-old southpaw completed his taking part in profession having made 612 regular-season pitching performances and 29 extra within the postseason the place he logged a 0.93 ERA over 38-and-two-thirds innings. Twice a visitor on FanGraphs Audio — in October 2020 and once more in October 2021 — Miller was at his finest from 2015-2017 when he went 17-6 with 50 saves and a 1.63 ERA.

Sammy Levitt has been employed as a pre- and postgame host for San Diego Padres radio broadcasts. The Northwestern College graduate had been serving because the radio play-by-play voice of the Double-A Amarillo Sod Poodles.

The Philadelphia Phillies have added 4 former gamers to their broadcast workforce. Michael Bourn, Chad Durbin, Erik Kratz, and Kevin Stocker will rotate street video games, whereas Larry Andersen will stay the analyst for many dwelling video games.

Pete Ward, a left-handed-hitting third baseman/outfielder for 3 groups from 1962-1970, died earlier this month at age 84. A local of Montreal, Ward had back-to-back stellar seasons with the Chicago White Sox, logging a 136 wRC+ and 4.6 WAR in 1963, and a 128 wRC+ and 6.1 WAR in 1964.


The reply to the quiz is Ralph Kiner, who homered 54 instances for the Pirates in 1949. Kiner additionally has the second highest complete in franchise historical past, 51 in 1947, whereas Willie Stargell’s 48 dwelling runs in 1971 ranks as third-most.


Nick Castellanos had his introductory press convention in Clearwater on Wednesday, and when you’ve examine it, you’ve most likely already seen his cash quote — a gem that few beat writers would go up. “I don’t have a school diploma,” Castellanos stated. “I hit baseballs.”

The most recent addition to the Phillies lineup does that with aplomb — he had 34 bombs and a 140 wRC+ final yr — which is the first motive Philadelphia signed him to a five-year $100M contract. As for his lack of superior education, the slugger is certainly not gradual on the uptake. No less than not within the opinion of agent Scott Boras, to whom I spoke after the presser.

“This man’s dad is a physician,” Boras informed me. “He’s a wise lad. He’s bought wheels up there. Very exact, very correct, very inspecting. You’ll give him info and he’ll ask you questions. He’s a relentless learner.”



Mike Fiers has reportedly signed with Leones de Yucatan, within the Mexican League. A 36-year-old veteran of 11 big-league seasons, the righty handled hip and elbow illnesses final season and made simply two appearances with the Oakland A’s.

The NPB season bought underway on Friday with six video games. Notable among the many opening-day performances was Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s eight scoreless innings because the Orix Buffaloes beat the Seibu Lions 6-0. The 23-year-old right-hander is coming off a season the place he went 18-5 with a 1.39 ERA.

Gregory Polanco went 3-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI because the Yomiuri Giants beat the Chunichi Dragons 4-2. “El Espresso” performed for the Pittsburgh Pirates for eight seasons earlier than inking a take care of the Dragons this previous January.

The Yakult Swallows rallied from an 8-1 deficit to beat the Hanshin Tigers 10-8. Kyle Keller, who pitched in 32 video games for the Pittsburgh Pirates final yr, allowed three ninth-inning runs and was charged with the loss. Erstwhile MLB outfielder Domingo Santana had 4 hits and 5 RBIs for the profitable aspect.

Roki Sasaki topped at 102 mph final evening in Chiba Lotte’s 6-5, 11-inning loss to the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. The 20-year-old Marines right-hander fanned 10 whereas permitting 4 hits and three runs over six innings.

Tsuyoshi Shinjo will reportedly be carrying his nickname on the again of his uniform this season. The colourful Nippon Ham Fighters supervisor has dubbed himself “Large Boss.”


Damon Jones made his MLB debut with the Philadelphia Phillies final August, and his lone outing was — in his personal phrases — “invigorating, but full of hysteria on the similar time; I couldn’t really feel my physique.” Pitching in opposition to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the 27-year-old left-hander departed the nervy ordeal unscathed due to the efforts of a teammate.

Jones entered the sport within the eighth inning and promptly retired the primary batter he confronted, AJ Pollock, on a floor ball. A single and a pair of walks adopted, loading the bases and sending Jones to the showers. Mauricio Llovera proceeded to scrub up the mess. The appropriate-hander fanned Albert Pujols, then induced a innocent pop-fly to strand all three runners. Jones’s ERA remained spotless, a pristine triple-zeros.

I requested the southpaw if he purchased Llovera dinner after the sport.

“I wished to; I informed him I’d purchase him a steak, however he wouldn’t let me,” responded Jones. “He buzzed Pujols up-and-in, and everybody form of booed as a result of it’s Albert Pujols, however then he bought out of it.”

However once more — this regardless of Jones’s finest efforts — no free dinner.

“He’s not an enormous steak man; he will need to have wished some Punta Cana from Allentown,” stated Jones, who performed with Llovera at Triple-A Lehigh Valley for a lot of the season. “I informed him a number of instances that I’d take him and his spouse out for dinner. He all the time stated no.”



At Forbes, Mike Ozanian and Justin Teitelbaum provided MLB income stream info and the 2022 valuation for every of the 30 groups. (The New York Yankees high the listing at $6B, whereas the Miami Marlins maintain down the underside at $990M. The common MLB workforce is value $2.07B.)

MASN, the regional sports activities community that airs Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals video games, received’t be sending their broadcaster groups on the street as soon as the common season begins. Dan Connolly has the story at The Athletic (subscription required).

The Ringer’s Zach Kram ranked the low season positive aspects and losses of all 30 MLB groups.

At The Washington Submit, Gus Garcia-Roberts and Jack Douglas teamed as much as write about how Tyler Skaggs’s agent had urged the now-deceased Los Angeles Angels southpaw to pitch by way of ache.

Former baseball journalist Jonah Keri was sentenced to 21 months in jail for his home abuse conviction. Joe Lofaro has the story at Montreal’s CTV Information.



The Detroit Tigers have known as Lakeland, Florida their spring coaching dwelling since 1934, the longest tenure in the identical locale for any of the 30 groups. The Philadelphia Phillies have educated in Clearwater since 1947.

Bo Bichette, whom the Blue Jays renewed earlier this week at a pre-arbitration-eligible $723,550, set a franchise file final yr with 29 dwelling runs as a shortstop. Tony Batista’s 26, in 1999, was the earlier franchise excessive at that place.

Kyle Schwarber has a .349/.431/.683 slash line in 72 profession plate appearances as a catcher. He has a .059/.172/.137 slash line in 58 profession plate appearances as a pinch hitter.

Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina want 9 begins to equal Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan for probably the most begins as a battery. (Hat tip to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Submit-Dispatch, who talked about this final month.) Counting the postseason, Lolich and Freehan teamed up 328 instances with the Detroit Tigers from 1963-1975.

Goose Gossage pitched for NPB’s Fukuoka Daiei Hawks in 1990. The then 38-year-old right-hander went 2-3 with eight saves and a 4.40 ERA in 47 innings.

Victor Starffin went 38-12 with a 0.97 ERA over 436 innings with the Tokyo Kyojin in 1940. The primary 300-game winner in NPB historical past Starrfin, a local of Nizhny Tagil, Russia, additionally performed below the title Hiroshi Suda. Per his Peter Bjarkman-penned SABR BioProject entry, Starffin was saved below fixed surveillance throughout WWII on account of considerations that he could possibly be a overseas agent or a spy.

The Kansas Metropolis Royals traded David Cone to the New York Mets as a part of a five-player deal on at this time’s date in 1987. Cone went on to amass 55.9 WAR over the subsequent 16 seasons. The 4 different gamers concerned within the commerce mixed for 1.4 profession WAR.

Gamers born on at this time’s date embrace Lynn McGlothen, who pitched for six groups from 1972-1982. A right-hander whose finest seasons got here with the St. Louis Cardinals — he was an All-Star in 1974 when he went 16-12 with a 2.69 ERA — McGlothen died in a mobile-home fireplace two years after throwing his final pitch.

Additionally born on at this time’s date was Creighton Gubanich, a catcher whose profession comprised 52 plate appearances with the Boston Purple Sox in 1999. The primary of Gubanich’s 13 big-league hits was his solely dwelling run, a grand slam in a 12-11 loss to the Oakland A’s.

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