Friday, February 17, 2012
The most punishing position in sports?
By Matt Remsberg
Union (Camas, Wash.) senior catcher and Arizona State recruit Clint Coulter was an all-state selection last year after batting .400 with four homers.
From foul tips to collisions at the plate, there’s a reason catchers are the only baseball players who need to wear body armor. We checked in with Clint Coulter, the No. 2-ranked catcher prospect by ESPNHS, to find out exactly how punishing the position really is. The Union (Camas, Wash.) senior only began catching a few years ago, but he's already experienced his fair share of excruciating moments behind the dish.
On collisions at home plate: “It’s illegal to run into the catcher in high school, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I remember one collision a guy came in hot and slid headfirst and his braces tore into my arm. It was deep, almost down to the bone.”
On dealing with foul tips: “I’ve taken them in the crotch, off the thigh and off the mask. But you can’t worry about it. It’s not humanly possible to react (in time).
On the grind of the position: “Doubleheaders will eat your lunch pretty good. I was catching one over the summer in Georgia and it was 100 degrees and humid. I remember stepping into the batter’s box and then stepping back out and I could see my wet footprint in the dirt. I had literally sweated through my cleats. You have to be pretty crazy to handle days like that, but I love it.”
On blocking balls in the dirt: "I wasn't the best at blocking balls when I started out because I was trying too hard to catch the ball instead of just keeping it in front of me. I'd come home from practice with bruises up and down my arms and jammed fingers. When I learned to use my chest to block the ball, that saved me a lot of pain."
On getting hit by the bat: "A lot of times, batters will get into the box and set up on in one spot, but then as the pitcher winds up they'll move back in the box an inch or two. There have been a couple times where that's happened and the ump has been right on my back so I can't move back at all and I end up getting hit in the glove by the bat. That doesn't feel too good on the fingers."
On the overall strain of the position: "Baseball is a grueling sport to begin with, and being a catcher is like grueling times two. Not just physically, but mentally you're really tuned in hard to your pitcher on every pitch. But I love it. I love being in control of the pitching staff. Like anything else in life, if you don't enjoy it then you're not going to be the best. I love being back there, and I want to be the best."