Need A Hand With That?
During last night's game, Red Sox catcher Ryan Hannigan suffered a broken finger after a ball struck Yankees' hitter Mark Teixeira. For everyone who has asked why we teach what we teach in regards to hand placement during and after a pitch with a runner on base....This is why. http://m.mlb.com/video/v97038683/nyybos-hanigan-takes-pitch-off-hand-leaves-game
The hand MUST start out in front of the body before the pitch, behind the glove to prepare to block or throw, and the moment you realize that the pitch is not being thrown in the dirt and a runner is not attempting a steal, you MUST tuck it back to the glove side of your chest protector. Starting the hand anywhere else and leaving it exposed during the pitch increases the risk of getting it hit and injured.
Had Ryan Hannigan kept his hand behind his glove and drawn it back to his chest protector last night, he might still have a job when he returns from surgery on his broken finger. This one simple mistake has lead to the Red Sox promoting the most heralded catching prospect in all of baseball and the Sox "catcher of the future" in Blake Swihart. Hannigan will most likely find playing time scarce when he returns. All because he didn't keep his hand protected.
Now Hannigan is making $3.5MM this year, so I have a feeling he'll be okay. But this is for any of you catchers who aren't making 7-figures this season...
We don't harp on this for the sake of filling time during our camps/lessons. We harp on this because the risk of injury is real and we want every catcher who wishes to achieve great things behind the plate to be able to do so. Tough to accomplish your dreams when you have a cast on your throwing hand.
Catchers, "No man's land" is not an acceptable location for your hand. Protect your hand so you can continue to play the game we all love.
FYI, coaches, this is NOT a reason to force your catchers to keep the hand behind their body. The moment a pitch is thrown into the dirt, or the moment a runner takes off, that hand WILL come out from behind them and be even more exposed than Hannigan's was.