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Catcher wristbands help coaches signal in pitches

Associated Press Modified: June 21, 2012 at 5:03 pm •  Published: June 21, 2012
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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — It's been said that the catcher is the quarterback of a baseball team.

These days, some catchers are looking more like their football counterparts with the playbook wristbands they wear.

South Carolina catcher Grayson Greiner wears a wristband on his left arm that has a grid chart listing number combinations corresponding with specific pitches signaled to him from the dugout.

Pitching coach Jerry Meyers uses his hands to flash three numbers at Greiner, who then relays the information to the pitcher through more traditional pitcher-catcher finger signs.

"We've been using it the last three or four years because such an emphasis has been put on picking signs and relaying locations and all those things that happen," Meyers said.

South Carolina's system is built with software designed by Oregon-based Own The Zone Sports. Coaches tell the computer what pitches they want to use, and the computer spits out a grid that assigns a different number combination for every single pitch.

There could be 25 different combinations, for instance, for an inside fastball. Ideally, no same combination would be used more than once in a game.

Here's how it works: Meyers might flash 324 at Greiner. Greiner looks to find the first two numbers, 32, on the top row of the chart. He then goes down four squares, the 4, to locate the desired pitch.

He then lets the pitcher know the call. Only the catcher wears the wristband.

Meyers said the Gamecocks get their catchers comfortable with the system during fall practices.

"When you put someone back there that hasn't caught in a while, it can slow it down," Meyers said. "Grayson Greiner, Dante Rosenberg, they're pretty quick with it."

More than 300 colleges use the system, according to the Own The Zone Sports' website.

The system also works for offensive signs so the opponent can't figure out signals flashed by the third-base coach to batters and baserunners.

"Everybody is paranoid about people trying to pick up their signs," Meyers said.

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NOT COUNTRY CLUB ATTIRE: Members of Oak Hills Country Club had never watched guys in baseball uniforms hitting golf balls at their driving range until this week.

The Arizona Wildcats apologized for their attire, but they didn't have time to change out of their practice clothes before attending a function at the club.

James Farris easily won the driving contest.

"Farris hits the ball farther than anybody," right fielder Robert Refsnyder said. "He ragged on us about it because he's a pitcher. He thought he embarrassed us. We told him we're saving our best swings for the baseball games."

Pitcher Kurt Heyer said he plays golf every Monday during the season with teammates and that the driving-range session at Oak Hills prepped him for an important round when the Wildcats return home.

"Hopefully we can get a round in to celebrate a national championship," he said.

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TEAM HUSKY: Florida State pitchers Scott Sitz, Brian Busch and Hunter Scantling are known as "Team Husky" among their teammates.

Center fielder James Ramsey says it's just because the three have, ahem, big hearts.

Sitz knows better. The three players are big guys. No need to be politically correct, he says.

"In the fall we had to wake up every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and go in at 8 o'clock and do extra running to try to lose weight," Sitz said. "We got nicknamed 'Team Husky' for that.' "

Sitz is listed at 5-foot-10 and 210 pounds, Busch is 6-2 and 237 and Scantling is 6-8 and 270.

"If I have to go run with somebody at 8 in the morning, those are the guys I want to do it with," Sitz said. "We keep ourselves entertained."

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SHORT HOPS: South Carolina played twice Thursday, marking the first time since 1980 that a team played two complete games on the same day at the CWS. Michigan and California each had to play two games in one day that year. ... Thursday marked the first time since 2003 that a defending champion faced elimination at the CWS. Every year since then, the reigning champion had either not made it back to Omaha the next year or swept through the next CWS undefeated (Oregon State in 2007 and South Carolina last year). The last team to face elimination and still end up defending its title was Stanford in 1988. ... With South Carolina and Arkansas the last two teams standing in Bracket 2, the Southeastern Conference is guaranteed to have a team in the finals for the fifth straight year.