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Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Catchers complain about Cubs' sign

By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- The new Wrigley Field video board in right might blend in seamlessly with the existing architecture of a nearly 100-year-old stadium, but it's hardly fitting in with visiting bullpen catchers.

The Cardinals are the latest team to have issues with the board making it hard for the catchers in the bullpen to warm up pitchers because of a bright background. In addition to the Cardinals, the Chicago Tribune reported that the Milwaukee Brewers also had an issue with it earlier this month.

New Cardinals bullpen catcher Jamie Pogue considered it a legitimate danger.

Wrigley
Cardinals bullpen catcher Jamie Pogue warms up pitchers before Wednesday's game at Wrigley Field.

"Yeah, especially if you're not concentrating 100 percent," Pogue said. "It's tough. You lose it for a little bit and sometimes it gets on you a little quicker than others. I was fortunate with no injury or anything but it was challenging."

When the catchers crouch down to take a pitch in the bullpen down the right-field line, the pitcher's release point is either directly in line with the video board above the wall, or else is in line with the sometimes light colored clothing of the patrons in the patio area above the board. The pitching rubber closest to the field causes the most problems.

Pogue said he typically catches in the bullpen wearing a helmet and shin guards, but is considering wearing a chest protector too just to be safe. He said he noticed the issue right away Monday when he caught the first Cardinals reliever to warm up, right-hander Mitchell Boggs.

"I said to him, 'Did it look like I was trying to catch you with tweezers?'" Pogue said. "I was just snatching at everything. It would be nice to see it the whole way and catch it smooth."

The major issue comes during the game when the statistics of the current pitcher and hitter are being posted. The white numbers cause a vision problem, but so does the white jerseys of the players in their mug shots. Pogue said it would make a huge difference if the players were wearing darker jerseys in those photos.

Since the issue first went public Tuesday, Pogue said he has already seen a change. He noticed Wednesday that head shots were on both edges of the video board, taking them out of the line of sight of the bullpen catchers.

Cubs spokesperson said Wednesday that color adjustments were made in the video board after the series with the Brewers. The head shots were moved during the Cardinals series not only to help with bullpen vision issues but to also help more fans see the pitch count.

The Cubs will review all other concerns during the road trip. Since the video board is new, the Cubs say it is still a work in progress and they are open to further enhancements as they learn more about the technology that is available.

"It's nice to see that they're making an effort," Pogue said. "There's nothing that says they need to do anything for us but it's nice to see they're doing what they can."

Neither the Cardinals nor Brewers have lodged a formal complaint about the problem.