Twins turn to PitchCom to combat sign stealing
The Twins first started testing out the new system during spring training, and now all of their pitchers are using it
Minnesota Twins pitchers are hearing voices now. Literally.
Instead of stepping on the mound and peering intently at the catcher, looking for a set of wiggling fingers, pitchers this year are getting their signs from a system called PitchCom.
Affixed to either Ryan Jeffers’ or Gary Sanchez’s left wrist, you can now find a small device filled with buttons that catchers now use to relay signs. A small receiver placed in the pitcher’s hat then reads out the information in a robotic voice. The Twins first started testing out the new system, which is designed to cut down on sign stealing, during spring training, and now all of their pitchers are using it.
“I really liked it,” starter Sonny Gray said this spring after first using it. “I really, really did. I think the days, for us at least, of catchers putting down signals has come and gone.”
A New York Times story posted shortly before Opening Day suggested only half of the teams were planning on using it to begin the season, though more are expected to as the season wears on.
The Twins were on board from the get-go.
“Everyone’s using it, because everyone sees the benefits in it,” Jeffers said. “I think it can aid in speeding up the tempo of the game in general and avoid obviously sign stealing.”
Getting used to the new system, Jeffers said, didn’t take a terribly long amount of time to get used to. Each pitcher wants his signs delivered slightly differently — some don’t care when they get it, some want it only when they’ve stepped on the mound — but learning that wasn’t too difficult for Jeffers, either.
Though there are still things to be ironed out, reliever Tyler Duffey believes everything will become much more fluid and routine as the season goes on.
“I think it’ll be good on the whole at the end of the year. It’ll be something that is really useful,” Duffey said. “I had runner on second base and didn’t have to worry about trying to remember anything signs wise. It’s just like, ‘Alright, yep, alright, nope,’ and go for it, and so it’s just that part of it is definitely going to be a lot better.”
It could also help speed things along, with pitchers getting signs quicker and thus being ready to deliver their next pitch sooner.
That would be A-OK with Twins manager Rocco Baldelli.
“I like a nice crisp pace. I kind of came up in the game thinking, you get on the mound, you get your pitch, keeps the guys behind you ready to go. I think those things are all positives. But I do think some pitchers have really benefited in their jobs by slowing things down, frankly,” Baldelli said. “I’d say the timing and the pace of the game has a chance to change.”
In addition to the pitcher and the catcher, the Twins can allocate three more PitchCom receivers, which have gone to their players up the middle: Carlos Correa at shortstop, Jorge Polanco at second base and Byron Buxton in center.
The new system has gotten a thumbs up from Twins position players, too. While Buxton says he goes off his instincts more than anything, he called PitchCom a “good help.” Same goes for Correa.
“I always look at the signs. I always know what’s coming. But knowing for sure, hearing it in your ear, it’s pretty cool stuff,” Correa said. “I’m on board.”
Correa was presented with his Gold and Platinum Glove awards on Monday before the game. It’s Correa’s first Gold Glove. The Platinum Glove is awarded to the best defensive player in each league.