When the Red Sox were rolling out knuckleballers Tim Wakefield and Steven Wright, the catchers had to go through a crash course on how to catch the pitch. So then-catching instructor Gary Tuck instituted a game-plan.
When catching the knuckleball catchers were to position their torso's facing the second baseman while dangling the glove (which resembled a first baseman's mitt) instead of presenting a target.
Gone were the over-sized mitts and traditional catching stances. This was the new way of doing things.
Now comes the next wave of catching evolution: Setting up on one knee.
Talking to the media Tuesday morning, Red Sox manager Alex Cora explained the thinking.
"It started last year," he said. "It’s something we noticed in ’19 that teams were doing. When you start looking at the numbers it doesn’t move the needle like people think it is, but actually it’s a comfort thing, too. I think it helps them to maintain the energy throughout the game. Jason (Varitek), you know how Jason is. He has been looking around the league and our guys. He feels it helps them locking in-wise. He mentioned that he if he knew this he would have done it as a catcher, and you know how much pride he took behind the plate and how good he was.
"Christian (Vazquez) doesn’t do it that often but it’s not because he doesn’t like it or doesn’t want to do it. It’s just that he’s that good and we feel comfortable with his stance that he’s OK. Framing pitches, he had an outstanding season last year. He feels more comfortable blocking where he’s at. As long as he keeps his level, we’re fine with it."
Vazquez gets the start Tuesday with Tanner Houck on the mound for the Red Sox at JetBlue Park, with the catcher hitting sixth. All the action can be heard on WEEI 850 AM, starting at 1 p.m.