The bullpen catcher is a member of a baseball team's staff, often a former professional player, who catches the ball for relief pitchers warming up before entering a game and starting pitchers before games.A bullpen catcher differentiates from a typical catcher as they are considered a coach and not a player, thus they cannot be behind home plate in an official game.
The duties of the bullpen catcher predate the coaching staff position itself. For many decades, it was standard for baseball teams to roster three catchers. The third catcher usually wouldn't see frequent playing time and was primarily responsible for helping pitchers warm up in the bullpen. In the 1980s, teams began to drop the third catcher from their roster in order to free up the spot to add a player considered more valuable. The bullpen catching duties were gradually shifted to a new position on the coaching staff instead of the active roster. Having a member of a team's staff dedicated solely to bullpen catching allowed them to become more specialized in it. This change has been attributed to Major League Baseball's financial rise in the 1980s.[ citation needed ]
Gary Waits was the first full-time bullpen catcher in Major League Baseball, being hired by the Cincinnati Reds in 1970 and remaining on the staff until 1978.
The bullpen catcher was once considered an entry-level "stepping stone" position for coaches who were looking to move up to higher-salary positions on the staff. In the 2000s, teams began to value the position more and tenures became longer. Mike Borzello caught for the Yankees bullpen for 11 years and has been credited with aiding the success of hall-of-fame reliever Mariano Rivera. Eli Whiteside was a catcher for the San Francisco Giants as a player and became a bullpen catcher for the team immediately after his retirement. He has remained with the Giants bullpen since 2015. Whiteside took over for longtime Giants bullpen catcher Bill Hayes who cited his age as a reason for his move to first base coach.Many other 21st-century bullpen catchers stayed with one team for long stints; for example, Marcus Hanel served as the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen catcher for 20 years.
Notable bullpen catchers include Rudy Arias, Cody Clark, Scott Cursi, Rob Flippo, Tom Gregorio, Mark Merila, Jeff Motuzas, Jason Phillips, Jamie Pogue, Dave Racaniello, Mark Reed, Román Rodríguez, Mark Salas, Steve Soliz, and Jesús Tiamo.
In baseball, the bullpen is the area where relief pitchers warm up before entering a game. A team's roster of relief pitchers is also metonymically referred to as "the bullpen". These pitchers usually wait in the bullpen if they have not yet played in a game, rather than in the dugout with the rest of the team. The starting pitcher also makes their final pregame warm-up throws in the bullpen. Managers can call coaches in the bullpen on an in-house telephone from the dugout to tell a certain pitcher to begin their warm-up tosses.
Henry Ramón Blanco is a Venezuelan professional baseball coach and former player. He is currently the catching and strategy coach for the Washington Nationals. He played as a catcher in Major League Baseball from 1997 to 2013, appearing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres, New York Mets, Arizona Diamondbacks, Toronto Blue Jays, and Seattle Mariners. He later served as quality assurance coach for the Cubs. Although a light-hitting player, he was regarded as one of the best defensive catchers in Major League Baseball.
Raymond William Schalk was an American professional baseball player, coach, manager and scout. He played as a catcher in Major League Baseball for the Chicago White Sox for the majority of his career. Known for his fine handling of pitchers and outstanding defensive ability, Schalk was considered the greatest defensive catcher of his era. He revolutionized the way the catching position was played by using his speed and agility to expand the previously accepted defensive capabilities for his position. Schalk was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.
Jason Lloyd Phillips is an American professional baseball player and coach. He is the bullpen coach for the Trenton Thunder of the Class AA Eastern League. He played as a catcher and first baseman in Major League Baseball for the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Toronto Blue Jays.
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Michael Ross Borzello is an American professional baseball coach who has worked for the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball (MLB).
Dustin Eli Whiteside is an American retired professional baseball catcher who is currently a roving catching instructor for the San Francisco Giants. He stands 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) tall, weighs 220 pounds (100 kg). He batted and threw right-handed. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Baltimore Orioles, San Francisco Giants, and Chicago Cubs.
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Mark Emery Cresse is an American former professional baseball catcher and Major League Baseball (MLB) coach, who is best remembered for his 25 years of coaching for the Los Angeles Dodgers (1974–1998).
Michael James Ryan was an American professional baseball catcher who played 11 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB), before becoming a longtime coach as well as a minor league manager. He played for the Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates from 1964 to 1974. He batted and threw right-handed, stood 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) tall and weighed 205 pounds (93 kg). He was a native of Haverhill, Massachusetts, where he graduated from St. James High School.
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The Georgia Bulldogs baseball team represents the University of Georgia in NCAA Division I college baseball.
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In baseball, a number of coaches assist in the smooth functioning of a team. They are assistants to the manager, who determines the starting lineup and batting order, decides how to substitute players during the game, and makes strategy decisions. Beyond the manager, more than a half dozen coaches may assist the manager in running the team. Essentially, baseball coaches are analogous to assistant coaches in other sports, as the baseball manager is to the head coach.
Scott Cursi is the bullpen catcher for the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team, a role he has filled since 1999.