By Andrew Millan
PHOENIX – The chemistry on and off the field between pitchers and catchers can be the difference between success and failure for a baseball team.
The Milwaukee Brewers know how important it is for those players to be on the same page.
Social media postings like this one on the Brewers Twitter page suggest the catchers already have a strong bond formed.
With spring training underway, now is the time for pitchers to integrate this same type of strong rapport with their battery mates.
“I think it’s the most important relationship probably you can have on the field,” Brewers pitcher Tyler Webb said. “You have to have complete trust in the catcher and what he’s calling.”
Webb acknowledges that having trust in the guy behind home plate makes the life of a pitcher a lot easier.
“If you trust the catcher, that’s just one less thing you have to think about on the mound, and the less you’re thinking about, the better,” Webb said. “Once you get to know the person, you know what they want. Getting to know them personally, that’s how you build trust I think the quickest.”
The Brewers won 86 games last season, missing a wild card spot by just one game. They also finished with the ninth-best ERA in the league at 4.00.
The team looks to improve these stats for 2018 with a solid infrastructure between the mound and home plate.
A good battery can help a team thrive, like the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey.
“It’s a relationship that you got to work on,” manager Craig Counsell said. “Knowing each other’s strengths. That catcher being absolutely certain of that pitcher’s strengths is something we ask of those guys and they’ve gotten very good at it.”
Brewers newcomer Wade Miley, who signed a minor league deal with the club on Feb. 15, is excited to build that special bond with his new catchers.
“For me right now it’s just getting to know the guys,” the veteran left-hander said. “Trying to get to know each and every catcher and maybe get the chance to throw to them, and just chat with them and see what they like.
“When you’re on the same page and create rhythm and confidence, you just kind of flow. For me right now it’s important to go out of my way and try to create relationships with them.”
Catcher Manny Pina believes the relationship between the pitchers and catchers goes beyond just being good teammates.
“The catchers and pitchers have to be on a good relationship,” Pina said. “We are kind of like brothers. We spend like 10 hours together so we have to know each other. The communication has to be there every time. We’re always talking and try to be on the same page.
“Trust the pitcher, trust the catcher. Maybe I see something he doesn’t see, maybe he sees something I don’t see. That’s why communicating during the game and before the game too is good.”
Counsell acknowledges that the team cannot function properly if the groundwork of the pitcher-catcher relationship isn’t there.
“That’s a really foundational thing and it’s something that’s really important to us,” Counsell said. “I thought we did an outstanding job of it last year, and it starts with really each side just kind of being open to each other.”