In 2022, Major League Baseball first allowed PitchCom, a system that allows a catcher to call signs by pressing a button on a transponder attached to his arm or shinguard. The signal is relayed to the pitcher via a microphone stored in his cap above his ear, so the pitcher can audibly hear what pitch the catcher is calling.
This year, MLB is allowing teams to reverse the process, with the pitcher having the transponder on his person and relaying the sign to the catcher. This allows the pitcher more control, and it also makes the process a little easier in a loud stadium, because the catcher can wear an actual earpiece rather than something near his ear.
According to Bill Plunkett in the Orange County Register, though, no Dodgers pitchers have yet shown an interest in using the new, reversed system. Pitching coach Mark Prior has encouraged them to at least experiment with it, but future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw – who doesn’t even use last year’s version of PitchCom except with a runner on second base – isn’t interested.
“It’s a collective effort,” Kershaw said. “I’ve had Barnesy (Austin Barnes) and Will (Smith) for a number of years now. I want their opinion. I’m not usually in between (choosing) pitches. But if they put down the pitch I’m thinking, it gives me that conviction.
“I think that’s part of the game. I trust Barnesy and Will a lot with their opinions. Yeah, we’re going to be on different pages sometimes. But for the most part, that’s why we do the prep, the meetings, all that stuff.”
Kershaw’s point about conviction in his pitches is an interesting and convincing one. When he and the catcher are collaborating on what to pitch and they both have the same thought, that cements it in his mind that it’s the right pitch to throw, so he can be fully invested in executing the pitch.
Kershaw has always valued the relationship between him and his catchers, whether it was Russell Martin, AJ Ellis, Yasmani Grandal, Barnes, or Smith. It makes sense that he wouldn’t be interested in removing the collaborative aspect of pitch calling. When the catcher calls the signs, the pitcher can always communicate by shaking him off; when the pitcher calls the signs, that communication is gone.
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