Tigers skipper Hinch clears the air on how pitch calls will be made − collaboratively

Detroit News

Lakeland, Fla. − Tigers manager AJ Hinch met with his pitchers and catchers Saturday morning and made it clear that calling a game was a collaborative endeavor − regardless of how comfortable any pitcher might be calling his own pitches in a spring training game.

“It’s not the catcher’s game to call and it’s not the pitcher’s game to call,” he said. “We should’ve held this meeting a week ago.”

The need for the meeting arose, at least in part, because Tigers lefty Eduardo Rodriguez used the PitchCom to call every pitch in this three-inning spring outing against the Phillies Friday and loved it.

“I like the results I had with it, the confidence I feel with it,” he said. “I feel like I’m going to keep doing it if they let me.”

They are not. The Tigers have not spent millions of dollars to improve their technology, analytics and scouting departments to disregard the data that goes into advanced reports.

“We have a lot of people who aren’t a pitcher and catcher who weight in on a game plan,” Hinch said. “And relating anything in spring training to anything in that regard to the regular season is just not accurate. You will never pitch the same way in a spring game as you would in the regular season.

“There is a reason NFL quarterbacks don’t call all their own plays. There is a reason the NBA doesn’t just hand over the plays to the players. It’s because these game plans are super complex.”

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Major League Baseball has not approved the use of PitchCom devices for pitchers in the regular season yet. If they do, it’s possible that both the pitcher and catcher will wear them. But they will likely be used like Michael Lorenzen used it Friday night in Tampa – in case of an emergency. If he and the catcher weren’t in sync or the clock was winding down.

“We will see how it goes,” Hinch said. “I like them working together and I like the people working behind the scenes that don’t get to wear uniforms that are forming significant opinions, as well. We have a whole advance team for a reason.

“It’s not about a gut feel. It’s not about what necessarily feels good (to the pitcher). It’s not ‘my’ game. As a catcher, it’s not ‘my’ game either. It’s more complex than a pitch communication system that for some reason got headed down a path of it being a single person’s responsibility.”

Hinch wanted it clear, too, that there was no problem, no conflict. It’s just a situation that needed to be clarified and addressed.

“We are all on the same page with where we are at,” Hinch said. “We’re just going to continue to toy with it. They need to work together to follow the game plan and adjust when they need to. But quite honestly, it’s nobody’s game to call. We’re trying to beat the opponent and we’re going to work together to make the best decisions.

“We try to extract as much emotion out of our decision making as we can and the best way to do that is to follow a game plan that everybody has weighed in on.”


Twitter: @cmccosky

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