If you're wondering what the Harlem Globetrotters might look like playing baseball, we saw two plays on Saturday that may serve as good examples. Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu and St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina both had to get creative to get outs for their pitcher defensively, and in Molina's case you might even say lucky. Either way, the end result of both was unique, but effective.
Beginning with Abreu, who has been phenomenal with the bat this season, setting an April rookie record for RBIs with 32. His glove work isn't too shabby either. Well, when his glove actually works that is. On Saturday, the leather wasn't cooperating fully when he flagged down Lonnie Chisenhall's sixth inning grounder.
After going to one knee to make the stop, the baseball actually got stuck in the webbing of Abreu's glove, making a standard transfer and barehand flip impossible. Abreu didn't panic though. Instead, he calmly removed and flipped the entire glove with the baseball in it to a covering Scott Carroll for the out. A not so standard 3-1 putout, but it works.
In fact, it's worked a few times in MLB history. Most notably when then New York Yankees right-hander Orlando Hernandez did the same thing during the 1999 World Series to retire Rey Ordonez after a comebacker became lodged in his glove. It was a little longer toss for Hernandez, but the out still counts.
Hey, it doesn't matter how the ball gets there, it just has to get there before the runner and then the defender has to establish full possession. That's actually much easier to do when it's wedged in the glove. It also goes to show that as valuable as the glove is, the mind is always greater because it's the only thing you can always count on.
As for Molina, well, everybody knows he's about as skilled defensively as one can possibly be behind the plate. He's a well respected signal-caller by not only his own pitching staff, but also Cardinals opponents. He possesses a throwing arm that matches up with the best in the league. Not to mention he's a terrific receiver with quick reflexes.
We should put an emphasis on the reflexes, because those certainly came into play on Saturday.
On a 1-2 pitch in the eighth inning, Chicago's Nate Schierholtz foul tipped one straight back into Molina's body. Not into his glove, which Molina obviously would have preferred, but straight into his thigh. Amazingly, Molina manged to catch and trap the ball behind his thigh and ribcage, which counted just the same as using his glove. So Schierholtz was ruled out on a foul tip strike three.
This circumstance is never seen, because it almost seems impossible for a catcher to secure the ball with his body. We've seen it got caught in the uniform and the chest protector. We've even seen it get wedged in their helmet. But it's tough to recall a time where it was literally trapped between a thigh and a ribcage.
Very bizarre, but again, very effective.
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