Are pitchers really encouraged to catch a high pop fly near the mound?
Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez says yes.
According to Gonzalez, the Marlins urge pitchers to take charge if they have to.
"When we're doing our drills, we encourage our pitchers [to make a catch]," Gonzalez said. "The pitcher doesn't call for it until the very end. The infielder has the priority over the pitcher. The shortstop has the priority over everybody in the infield, because usually your shortstop is a better defender.
Normally the infielders try to field every popup for the reason that they play in the field everyday and the pitchers don't. It is not the case, however, that the pitchers are necessarily anemic fielders. Most of the pitching staff were the best athletes on the field during their high school and college playing days and are quite capable of catching a routine pop fly. Of course, then there is the aspect that they are more use to being on the mound, should that be where the popup lands.
I don't have a problem with the pitchers fielding pop flies, they will probably do a good job of it, if given the chance.
The only problem I have is whether the Marlins infielders can remember the order of priority when it comes to popups on the infield. The last thing they need to be doing is running into each other.
Oh, by the way, I'm not convinced the Marlins shortstop is the best fielder on the team, the best hitter -- you bet. But the best fielder? I have some doubts.