Twins Mix It Up To Try To Frame Pitches Better (Video)
At first glance, watching the Twins' minor league catchers on the back fields in Florida looks like a group of backstops impersonating long-time catcher Tony Pena.
In the 1980s, Pena showed off his agility with a variety of unconventional setups behind the plate. Maybe he was ahead of his time in his ways of setting up behind the plate.
The Twins' catchers are working on a variety of setups to try to make it easier to present or frame borderline pitches. The setups also help give the umpire a good look at the pitch.
Those setups vary from pitch to pitch and situation to situation. Usually, the catcher kicks out one leg while getting as low as he can in his stance. Catcher Ben Rortvedt occasionally squatted with both knees and his butt all the way down on the ground, showing flexibility few catchers (or humans) can match.
“It’s a new thing we’re all trying to work on. It’s an organizational thing. We’re going to be in optimal (position). It’s a big thing we’ve been working on,” catcher David Banuelos said.
The new setups require plenty of agility and some intellectual agility as well. To avoid tipping pitches, the catchers don’t get into their final setup until after they have given the pitcher the sign.
“You’ve got to get the reps in," Banuelos said. “Catching is never easy. It gives us an opportunity to get more strikes. That’s the goal. You have to present it well. We’re finding those ways to present a better frame. You can see the different stances . . . I’m trying to be more mobile.”
Fellow Twins catcher Caleb Hamilton, an Oregon State infielder who has converted to catching, also spent a lot of work this past offseason getting ready for the new setups.
"My offseason was a lot of mobility work and a lot of stretching, so my hips can handle it,” Hamilton said. "It’s an organizational thing where we are trying to set the bar for how far we can take catching.”