After Major League Baseball and the Players Association (MLBPA) reached an agreement for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), they also gave teams the green light to begin testing out the new PitchCom technology.
PitchCom allows pitchers, catchers and players in the field to communicate on what pitches to throw without the use of traditional signs, but instead a small touchpad to relay the pitch-type & location which is voiced over a speaker in the pitcher’s cap and to select defenders behind them.
But over Spring Training, PitchCom received mixed reviews from teams around the league. Some loved it and others couldn’t get away from the old-school way of calling a game. The Los Angeles Angels catching duo of Max Stassi and Kurt Suzuki have opposite opinions on its use.
PitchCom is mainly regarded as a way to curb sign-stealing paranoia around MLB, but Stassi isn’t quite yet onboard with the tech’s ability to bring a new pace to the game, according to Jeff Fletcher of the O.C. Register:
“For me, it just took away from the flow,” Stassi said. “Let’s say a guy hits a single, it’s late in the game. I’m thinking about the guy coming up, who’s in the hole, and I’m thinking about certain buttons to push. Over time I think I’ll adapt, but obviously it’s very different.”
With MLB constantly looking to speed up the game and team’s always on the lookout for ways to protect themselves from their sign’s being stolen, there’s a reason PitchCom has garnered raves reviews and has already proven to speed up the pace between pitches.
Stassi used PitchCom during the Freeway Series against the L.A. Dodgers but said that it wasn’t something he felt comfortable using at the time. Suzuki, however, has used it with a few of the Angels young arms and they love it.
“It’s pretty simple once you kind of get the hang of it,” Suzuki said. “It’s an easier way to communicate, instead of putting fingers down.”
Of course there will be a learning phase for players to figure out how to properly use PitchCom during tense scenarios, but with this being the first step, it can only be refined and improved.
David Fletcher to play more second base upon return
The Angels lost starting shortstop David Fletcher to the 10-day injured list with a left-hip strain during their second series of the season.
While Fletcher isn’t known for his offensive prowess, he is one of the top defensive players in the sport, so the injury had potential to be a big loss for the club. However, his replacement Andrew Velasquez has performed even better with the glove, posting an outs above average that ranks in the top 10% of defenders.
With how well Velasquez has performed defensively, Angels Manager Joe Maddon seems to want to keep that going once Fletcher returns, so he expects his former starting shortstop to play more second base.