Chris Hatcher

Chris Hatcher: from catcher to major league pitcher in less than a year

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The Marlins’ Chris Hatcher made his major league debut last September as the team’s third catcher, going 0-for-6 in five games.  Today, he’s rejoining the team as a reliever.

Hatcher, a 2006 fifth-round pick, decided to make the switch to the mound after hitting just .197/.274/.283 in 354 at-bats between Double- and Triple-A last season.  He was a career .211/.290/.364 hitter in the minors, and even as a strong armed catcher, that’s not the kind of line that’s going to lead to much action in the majors.

So, Hatcher showed up this year as a full-time reliever and went 2-1 with a 2.31 ERA and a 39/15 K/BB ratio in 35 innings for Double-A Jacksonville, earning him his promotion today.  It’ll probably be a short-term assignment — the Marlins were able to send down Brad Hand and go to four starters with the All-Star break coming up — but the choice of Hatcher suggests the team sees a future for him in the major league bullpen.  He throws in the low-90s consistently, and he’s already come up with a halfway decent slider.  If he refines it, he might turn into a quality setup man in time.

James McCann is in The Best Shape of His Life

Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann blows a bubble while warming up during a spring training baseball workout, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Lakeland, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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As I note every spring, “Best Shape of His Life” stories aren’t really about players being in The Best Shape of Their Lives. They’re about players and agents seeking to create positive stories.

We know this because the vast majority of Best Shape of His Life claims are about guys who were either injured the season before, guys who had subpar years the season before or players whose conditioning was a point of controversy the season before. These folks, or their agents + reporters who have little if nothing to write about in the offseason = BSOHL.

James McCann hurt his ankle last season and had a subpar year at the plate. So not only is he a perfect BSOHL candidate, he went old school with the claim and hit it right on the money, verbatim:

Spring training is less than a month away, folks!

Bo Jackson is not gonna change kids’ minds

1989:  Bo Jackson #16 of the Kansas City Royals practices his swing as he prepares to bat during a game in the 1989 season.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Last week Bo Jackson said that, if he had it to do all over again, he would have never played professional football and that he would never let his kids play. The sport is too violent, he said. “I’d tell them, ‘Play baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, just anything but football.’”

Fair enough. Thom Loverro of the Washington Times, however, thinks that Bo could do more than simply give his opinion on the matter. He thinks Bo should become an official ambassador for Major League Baseball:

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, pick up the phone right now and call Bo Jackson. Tell him you have a job for him — vice president of something, whatever you would call the man in charge of converting a generation of young athletes to baseball. And pay him what he wants.

You won’t find a better symbol of the differences between the two sports than Bo Jackson. After all, he was an All-Star in both. Bo knows football. Bo knows baseball.

Bo, tell the children — baseball over football.

The Children: “Who is Bo Jackson?”

Yeah, I’m being a bit flip here, but dude: Jackson is 54 years-old. He last played baseball 23 years ago. I’d personally run through a wall for Bo Jackson, but I’m 43. I was 12 when he won the Heisman trophy. While he may loom large to middle aged sports writers, a teenager contemplating what sport to play is not going to listen to someone a decade or more older than his parents.

This isn’t terribly important in the grand scheme of things, but it’s indicative of how most columnists process the world through their own experiences and assume they apply universally. It’s probably the biggest trap most sports opinion folks fall into.