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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Why not have a batter standing beside the catcher while the pitcher warms up?

David Cone was doing color commentary during today's Yankee spring training game, no doubt trying not to wonder too much about why he didn't get the open job managing the Yankees instead of Aaron Boone.

Cone mentioned something I had actually seen and wondered why it didn't happen more. Cone said facetiously that entering a game caused some anxiety because there was a batter facing him while there had not been one while he was warming up. Why not?

I saw that before a game at Yankee Stadium, I think in 1963. I think the pitcher might have been Mickey Lolich who debuted May 12, 1963. I think this was the game:

https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA196306150.shtml

Lefty Al Downing started for the Yankees. Downing had just been called up, essentially replacing Mickey Mantle who had broken his foot in Baltimore June 5, 1963.

Anyway, the point is that through the 1973 season when the Yankees vacated the Stadium while it was being renovated the starting pitchers warmed up along the warning track on the home plate side of the dugout. I think there was even a plate on each side of the track.

We sat in great seats in the first row for that game beside the Tiger dugout. When the Tiger pitcher warmed up, for part of the time he had a batter stand beside the warm up plate holding a bat. First a righty batter, then lefty Norm Cash. The batters just stood there and made no move toward the pitch.

So, why don't they do that all the time? If there's no room in the bullpen, why not use a dummy batter? After all, he's not going to swing.

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