The Denver Post

Pitchers experiment with Pitchcom to call signals

New system part of MLB effort to speed up pace of games

- By Patrick Saunders

The baseball gospel, according to “Bull Durham,” proclaims: “This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.”

Not anymore.

In yet another embrace of technology, Major League

Baseball is permitting pitchers to wear electronic contraptio­ns during spring training that allow them to signal to the catcher what pitch is coming next. Monday, as the Rockies took the field for their first fullsquad workout, pitchers tried out the new device during live batting practice. Most of them had the black, nine-button “keypad” strapped to their belt.

“It’s something we want to try early in camp and get a handle on it,” said Brian Jones, Colorado’s director of research and developmen­t. “This gives pitchers a chance to call their own pitch instead of having to shake off the catcher.”

There will be kinks to be worked out, for sure, especially with MLB installing a 15-second pitch clock this season. The hope is that the newest addition to the Pitchcom system will help pitchers keep pace.

“It will be easy for some guys and for other guys it’s going to be an adjustment,” Jones said. “We’ll have to see how it goes during spring training.”

The new device is an extension of the Pitchcom system that teams were allowed to use last season when catchers could push buttons on their wristbands to call for pitches along with pitch location. The pitcher would then hear the result on an earpiece inside his hat. Now, pitchers can make the calls themselves.

The experiment will begin Friday in two Cactus League games when Seattle plays San Diego and Texas takes on Kansas City. MLB will evaluate the experiment and then decide whether to approve it for the regular season.

Concerns over teams stealing catchers’ signals prompted the rise of the Pitchcom system last season.

INJURY UPDATE >> Righthande­r Peter Lambert, who’s attempting to come back from a lingering right elbow/forearm injury, threw a live bullpen Monday and was sharp. “Peter looked very good today,” general manager Bill Schmidt said.

Even more important was Lambert’s ability to cut loose without pain.

“My elbow feels great,” said the right-hander, who was shut down during the Arizona Fall League because of mild forearm discomfort.

It would be a huge bonus for the Rockies if Lambert can have a healthy, productive camp. The starting rotation needs all the depth it can find. Lambert, 25, debuted in 2019 but underwent Tommy John surgery in 2020 and has thrown just two major league games and 11 minor-league games since the surgery.

POSITION BATTLE >> Keep an eye on former Tiger Harold Castro to be the club’s super utilityman. Castro, 29, slashed .284/. 309/. 377 over parts of five seasons with Detroit but was non-tendered in the fall. He can play middle infield as well as all three outfield positions.

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