Mike Boddicker was the catalyst for this catching tip.
1991 was my rookie season with the Royals, I was 23 and feeling pretty
good about myself. We're in the bullpen in Milwaukee and I'm warming up
my teammate (and at that point, 11 year veteran) Mike Boddicker for his
start. He's throwing and I'm kind of nonchalantly flipping the ball
back to him. Let's just say not every toss back was on the money.
Well, after about the fifth time he had to bend over to catch my return
throw, Mike stepped off and screamed, "Dammit Brent, hit me in the
chest!" There may have been a stronger word in there.
He took me by surprise, and my initial thought was, "who's this old
guy telling me what to do? But then I kept thinking about it and
a light went on. He was right.
First of all I thought, the poor guy is like 100 years old (he was probably 33, but that seemed
ancient) and is going to have to throw about 100 pitches out there. The last thing he needs to
do is chase my errant throws around.
Secondly, it dawned on me that if Mike's standing on the mound and I throw the ball back to him
head high at about 75% velocity, and instead of catching it he ducks out of the way, guess where
the ball ends up? That's right, second base.
This was big. I knew I was going to have to throw the ball back to the pitcher about 150 times
every game anyway. If I just paid attention to that throw half the time, I was effectively
practicing a throw to second base 75 times a game! Now if a Ricky Henderson or a Carl Crawford runs,
I don't have to think about a thing. That's just where I throw the ball.
It's a simple thing. But then again, if you want to be a player, you better pay attention to
these simple things because baseball is a game of repetition. Whatever you do the most is what
you're going to do when the heat is on. Aside from being a bit selfish, mindlessly flipping the
ball around creates bad habits. Police yourself to throw accurately and you'll be a better teammate
and a better player for your efforts. I sure was. Thanks Bod…you old man.
Till next week, good luck, have fun, and keep your eye on the