Bailey experiencing the never-ending fight of an MLB catcher

Bailey experiencing the never-ending fight of an MLB catcher originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Tom Murphy sat in the squat and tried his best to fool home plate umpire Brian Walsh on Friday at Citizens Bank Park. The Giants’ backup catcher also had a bit of a problem on his hands.

He was framing an empty glove.

As the ball bounced behind him and caromed towards the home dugout, Murphy jogged thinking his mistake would only cost the Giants one base. Philadelphia Phillies speedy shortstop Trea Turner had other plans, sprinting from second base and sliding into home to barely beat Murphy’s throw to pitcher Jordan Hicks.

What looked like Murphy getting crossed up on an unsuspected splitter, wound up as a microcosm for the Giants’ night in Philly.

Murphy surely wasn’t in Giants manager Bob Melvin’s plans on Friday. Not in the fourth inning, and especially not in the second inning of the Giants’ 4-3 loss when Murphy was forced to replace Patrick Bailey behind the dish.

Bailey wore his catcher’s gear for a total of seven batters, but wore the brunt of multiple foul balls, including one directly off his mask in the first inning.

The Giants’ starting catcher exited shortly after taking a foul ball directly off the inside of his left foot with one out in the second inning. That wasn’t the reasoning for his removal.

San Francisco announced in the fifth inning that Bailey was taken out due to blurry vision and was being evaluated.

Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm owned a .368 batting average through Thursday, second to only Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts’ .377. He ranked second in RBI (31) and fifth in OPS (1.001). Bohm’s one hit Friday was a RBI grounder pulled to left field at 101.3 mph to give the Phillies their first run.

But the foul Bohm smashed back off Bailey’s face mask could have been traveling at the speed of sound. Volume up. You wince when you hear the collision of ball, face and metal bars.

It’s the battle catchers brace themselves with the moment their gear chooses them, not the other way around. And it’s the last thing the Giants, now 15-18 after their latest loss, as a team can afford right now.

His catcher’s eye let him earn a six-pitch walk in Bailey’s lone at-bat of the day, watching the last two pitches – both balls – miss the strike zone but not by much. Bailey then scored the first of a two-run double by Thairo Estrada to give the Giants an early lead. He stole a handful of strikes for a struggling Jordan Hicks, even in such a short amount of time. San Francisco missed Bailey in Friday’s loss and trying to replace the budding star would be a tough pill of impossibility to swallow.

Murphy hit a soft single up the middle in his first at-bat. The 33-year-old backup grounded out and struck out his last two at-bats, raising – yes, raising – his batting average to .121. Philadelphia also swiped three bags on the veteran catcher.

The Giants’ only other catcher on the 40-man roster is Blake Sabol, who currently is hitting .243 in Triple-A. Sabol, 26, caught 55 games last season for the Giants and hit .235 with 13 home runs and a .695 OPS in 110 games. Sabol also allowed 37 stolen bases, throwing out only seven. His 16.0 caught stealing percentage was below the league average of 19 percent.

As the Giants’ Buster Posey-sized hole at catcher grew and grew, first in the 2020 pandemic-shortened season he opted out of, and ever since his retirement after the 2021 season, Bailey began writing his own story last year and gained the trust of fans to look forward instead of being stuck in the past early this season. He has made major strides at the plate and now is batting .278 with an .800 OPS after hitting .233 with a .644 OPS in 94 games last season, a year where he started hot at the plate before trailing off.

The Giants believe the strength Bailey added and his maturity as a hitter has him primed to keep pace this season. He continues to be a weapon defensively, well on track to be a Gold Glove candidate for the rest of the decade.

Early Friday afternoon the Giants released a medical update that included progress on Blake Snell — the 2023 NL Cy Young Award winner, the 2019 AL Cy Young Award winner and a 2022 NL All-Star starting pitcher. Adding Bailey to that injury list would be a giant gut punch in the midst of a 10-game road trip.

Only eight months ago Bailey sustained a concussion at home plate that kept him out for a week. After the game. Melvin told reporters that Bailey is feeling better and is not in concussion protocol. Another round done in this never-ending fight of a catcher’s life.

Download and follow the Giants Talk Podcast

This embedded content is not available in your region.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top