BRADENTON, Fla. -- New catchers have extra homework. So Jesus Sucre has been busy.Sucre is the new catcher in camp after the Rays acquired him from the Mariners shortly before the opening of Spring Training. He is in the mix, along with Luke Maile and Curt Casali, to claim one
BRADENTON, Fla. -- New catchers have extra homework. So Jesus Sucre has been busy.
Sucre is the new catcher in camp after the Rays acquired him from the Mariners shortly before the opening of Spring Training. He is in the mix, along with Luke Maile and Curt Casali, to claim one of the two available catching slots. Since arriving to camp, he's done everything possible to learn the many personalities of the different pitches thrown by the Rays' staff.
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"He's done a good job," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "You hear the feedback from the pitchers. They enjoy throwing to him. The arm we've seen, that's nice to have, but working with them is more important. And he's done a really good job of getting to know them."
"It's not easy," Sucre said. "I started trying to learn about as many pitchers as possible the first day when I got here. A lot of good arms are here. I got to know the starting pitchers already. I've got to get to know more of the bullpen guys."
Sucre doesn't just log what he sees in his head.
"I've got a little book," Sucre said. "I've got it with me. I write everything down. What they have, what they're trying to do. I ask them before the game, 'You want to do something special here?' Those kind of things."
Hazards of the learning curve include "wearing one" when you're expecting fastball and you get a slider, or when you don't exactly know the characteristics of a certain pitch.
"That happened to me when I got here the first time when I caught [Chris] Archer," Sucre said. "I know he has a slider, I didn't know he had a sharp one. After about 10 pitches, I learned how nasty it was. [Alex Cobb] has a nice changeup. You get used to it day by day, and finally you get used to it and I know what they're trying to do."
Cash, a former Major League catcher, said the learning process was, "Probably not as hard as we make it out to be sometimes."
"Because there is so much interaction and downtime during Spring Training," Cash said. "You think about the number of bullpens and live BPs, you get a pretty good sense about what guys are doing. It's not always on the catcher. It's on the pitcher to communicate, too. ... And they've done a good job of doing that."
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.