Zack Greinke of the LA Dodgers is scheduled to make $21 million this season. A.J. Ellis was his catcher last Thursday night when Greinke plunked Carlos Quentin of the San Diego Padres and Quentin subsequently charged the mound, and ended up breaking Greinke’s collarbone.
After reviewing the replay, it is obvious that Ellis moved from his position far too slowly in an attempt to protect his battery-mate.
Without Greinke in the rotation, the Dodgers and their fans suffer the consequences. Greinke is an integral part of the team in a division with the returning champs, the San Francisco Giants, and other teams, who want nothing more than to finish ahead of the Dodgers.
With that in mind, why didn’t Ellis move faster to go after Quentin from behind? He could have prevented this catastrophe for the Dodgers by stopping the mammoth outfielder from charging the mound, if he would have tackled him as he ran after Greinke.
There have been plenty of other times in recently when catchers have done this, sometimes running in front of the charging player, or jumping on his shoulders.
If pitchers are so valuable, shouldn’t teams teach catchers how to tackle during spring training?
For pitchers, there are so many other ways to get hurt (line drives off the body and overuse of the pitching arm are common). It’s not necessary for pitchers to get hurt in insignificant ways, like trying to be macho. There’s too much on the line for fans and the organization.
For catchers, running after the batter who is charging the mound must become instinctual and in order for this to happen, it has to be practiced thoroughly. It sounds like a crazy thing for a baseball player to practice, but with pitchers being as expensive as they are, it is essential.
Catchers practicing stopping charging batters is the only way to guarantee the safety of the pitcher.
Catchers must give up themselves for the team. They are the closest player to the batter and can remedy the situation quickly. If the batter makes any approach at all the catcher must pounce.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com