Catching Is No Problem for the Dodgers

Friday, March 12, 2021
Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2021

The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Cleveland Indians 9-to-2 in a rain-shortened game.

Both Walker Buehler and David Price pitched well. Buehler, who allowed two runs, pitched three innings. He used all his pitches during his outing, and these pitches were of great quality. Barring an unseen injury, Buehler will be ready for the opening series against the Colorado Rockies.

In his second outing of the spring, David Price pitched brilliantly. He used his slider, curveball, and changeup well. He should be ready for the regular season in whatever role the Dodgers wanted.

Since the late 1940s, the Dodgers have had fantastic catching, and it continues today. Roy Campanella had a Hall-of-Fame career before he became paralyzed from shoulders down in an automobile accident. John Roseboro took over for Campanella and guided both Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale in the 1960s. Steve Yeager, an underestimated defensive catcher, guided Don Sutton and Bob Welch through the 1970s and early 1980s. Mike Scioscia became famous when he caught Fernando Valenzuela during his phenomenal rookie season when he won both the National League Rookie of the Year and National League Cy Young awards. However, his plate blocking ability helped to prevent runs from scoring and wild pitches.

In the 1990s, Hall of Famer Mike Piazza dominated the catching position for the Dodgers until the News Corp traded him to the Florida Marlins, which was one of the worst trades in baseball history. While Piazza’s remarkable offensive contributions captured headlines, during his Dodger tenure, Piazza caught two no-hitters thrown by Ramon Martinez and Hideo Nomo. Paul Lo Duca continued the Dodger catching tradition until Russell Martin burst on the scene. AJ Ellis, whose offense was weak, could establish relationships with pitchers, namely Clayton Kershaw.

Now, the Dodgers have Will Smith and Austin Barnes, who hit a three-run blast, Friday, to do the catching in the 2021 season, but Keibert Ruiz, who made his 2021 debut Friday with a two-run single, is waiting for an opportunity.

Debuted in 2019, Smith has become an offensive powerhouse. He had five hits in a game during the NLDS against the San Diego Padres. He had an important three-run homer in the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves. Serving as a DH during the World Series because the Dodgers liked Barnes’ pitch selection and framing better. Smith has a strong throwing arm, which has enabled him to throw out many potential base stealers, but he is still learning how to work with pitchers and frame pitches.

Barnes, 32, is a veteran catcher. Sometimes, his offense has been nonexistent, but he can hit satisfactorily. He pounces on a pitch in the dirt like a cat, and this prevents many wild pitches and runs from scoring. The pitchers love to throw to Barnes.

The Dodgers should not trade Ruiz even though it is tempting. At any time, a catcher can be injured, and Ruiz can step in and produce. This spring the Dodgers have the veteran catcher Tim Federowicz to catch a few innings and bullpen sessions.

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