MESA, Ariz. -- Walker McKinven, the Brewers’ associate pitching, catching and strategy coach, sat in the clubhouse the other morning with catchers Omar Narváez and Pedro Severino to play around with a new toy.
PitchCom is an encrypted pitch-calling system that could help improve the pace of play and eliminate illegal sign-stealing. It involves both pitcher and catcher wearing a small piece of technology; the catcher wears a wristband with a series of buttons, and the pitcher wears a small speaker in the band of his cap that announces the pitch and location the catcher wants.
The Brewers have yet to test the tech in a game, but several pitchers and catchers have been playing around in bullpen sessions. Bullpen catcher Adam Wiesenberger used it to communicate with veteran Josh Lindblom during some recent mound work, and Lindblom offered his endorsement.
“It’s like having Siri in your ear. ‘Fastball up and in,’” Lindblom said. “It’s different, so I think there is going to be resistance from some people to use it. What I liked about it was I had the pitch before I came in contact with the rubber.”
That has multiple benefits. One, the pitcher no longer has to come set and look for the sign, shaving a couple of seconds off the delay between each pitch. That adds up over nine innings, Lindblom said. Two, it eliminates the threat of stealing signs from the bases or beyond the outfield wall.
And Lindblom believes there could be a third benefit.
“From a psychological standpoint, I think it could be really beneficial when you hear something and you know what the catcher is thinking before you even get on the mound,” he said. “From an execution standpoint and a conviction standpoint, that’s really big -- instead of me standing on the mound and waiting to know what the catcher wants to throw.
“So, from a rhythm and tempo standpoint, it could be really good. I liked it. I could see how some guys wouldn’t like it, and that’s fine.”
Narváez and Severino said they had yet to practice with the device as of Friday morning but were open to it if a pitcher was interested.
“We’ll see how it goes in practice,” Narváez said. “I haven’t had a chance yet. But I’ll try it.”
• Pitcher Adrian Houser, the only one of the Brewers’ 10 remaining arbitration-eligible players who was unable to come to terms before the deadline on Tuesday, says he's not sure whether his hearing date has been set yet. He filed at $3 million and the Brewers countered at $2.43 million; if it goes to a hearing during the season, a panel of arbitrators would listen to arguments from each side and choose one salary or the other.
“It’s just the business side of it,” Houser said. “It doesn’t change anything that I’m doing here. I’m going about my day the same way, going about my business the same way. … Hopefully, we don’t get to a trial, but right now it’s headed towards a trial. That’s about all I know.”
• Houser is scheduled to start Saturday’s game against the Mariners and be followed by left-hander Eric Lauer, who will be making his Cactus League debut. Lauer’s first scheduled start on Tuesday was bumped after he developed some minor groin tightness.
“I think that was the only pitch that I made a mistake, a mental mistake,” Peralta said. “Other than that, I feel good about everything. … I can tell you that in the past, I made more mistakes than I am [making] right now. It’s always going to happen. It doesn’t matter the years that you have [in MLB]. But right now I’ve been making less than last year.”