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Bailey experiences the never-ending struggle of an MLB catcher

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Bailey experiences the never-ending struggle of an MLB catcher originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Tom Murphy squatted and did his best to fool home plate umpire Brian Walsh on Friday at Citizens Bank Park. The Giants’ backup catcher also had a bit of a problem on his hands.

I was framing an empty glove.

As the ball bounced behind him and headed toward the home dugout, Murphy jogged away, thinking his mistake would only cost the Giants a base. Speedy Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Trea Turner had other plans, running from second base and sliding home to barely beat Murphy’s throw to pitcher Jordan Hicks.

What appeared to be Murphy crossing paths with an unlikely splitter ended up as a microcosm for the Giants’ night in Philadelphia.

Murphy surely wasn’t in Giants manager Bob Melvin’s plans on Friday. Not in the fourth inning, and especially not in the second inning of the Giants’ 4-3 defeat when Murphy was forced to replace Patrick Bailey behind the plate.

Bailey used his catching gear for a total of seven batters, but took the brunt of multiple foul balls, including one straight off his mask in the first inning.

The Giants’ starting catcher exited shortly after taking a foul ball directly off the inside of his left foot with one out in the second inning. That was not the reason for his dismissal.

San Francisco announced in the fifth inning that Bailey was out for blurred vision and was being evaluated.

Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm had a .368 batting average through Thursday, second only to Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts’ .377. He ranked second in runs batted in (31) and fifth in OPS (1.001). Bohm’s only hit on Friday was an RBI grounder to left field at 101.3 mph to give the Phillies their first run.

But the foul that Bohm hit against Bailey’s mask could have traveled at the speed of sound. Turn up the volume. You wince as you hear the ball, face, and metal bars collide.

They are the battle hunters they prepare with the moment their team chooses them, and not the other way around. And it’s the last thing the Giants, now 15-18 after their last loss, as a team can afford right now.

His catcher’s eye allowed him to earn a six-pitch walk in Bailey’s only at-bat of the day, watching as the last two pitches (both balls) missed the strike zone, but not by much. Bailey then scored the first of Thairo Estrada’s two-run double to give the Giants an early lead. He stole a handful of strikes for a struggling Jordan Hicks, even in such a short amount of time. San Francisco missed Bailey in Friday’s loss and trying to replace the budding star would be a tough pill to swallow.

Murphy hit a soft single up the middle in his first at-bat. The 33-year-old backup grounded out and struck out in his final two at-bats, raising – yes, raising – his batting average to .121. Philadelphia also stole three bags from the veteran catcher.

The only other Giants catcher on the 40-man roster is Blake Sabol, who is currently hitting .243 in Triple-A. Sabol, 26, caught 55 games last season for the Giants and hit .235 with 13 home runs and a .695 OPS in 110 games. Sabol also allowed 37 stolen bases, throwing out only seven. His caught stealing percentage of 16.0 was below the league average of 19 percent.

As the Giants’ Buster Posey-sized hole at catcher grew and grew, first in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season in which he opted out, and since his retirement after the 2021 season, Bailey started to write his own story last year and gained trust. of fans to look forward instead of getting stuck in the past earlier this season. He has made great strides at the plate and is now hitting .278 with a .800 OPS after hitting .233 with a .644 OPS in 94 games last season, a year in which he started hot at the plate before to decay

The Giants believe Bailey’s added strength and maturity as a hitter have him poised to keep up this season. He continues to be a defensive weapon, on track to be a Gold Glove candidate for the rest of the decade.

On Friday afternoon, the Giants released a medical update that included the progress of Blake Snell: the 2023 National League Cy Young Award winner, the 2019 American League Cy Young Award winner and the National League starting pitcher. 2022 National League All-Star Game Adding Bailey to that injured list would be a giant blow in the middle of a 10-game road trip.

Just eight months ago, Bailey suffered a concussion at the plate that kept him out for a week. After the match. Melvin told reporters that Bailey is feeling better and is not in concussion protocol. Another round over in this never-ending fight of a catcher’s life.

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