It would be easy to pile on Gregg Zaun right now. Zaun wasn’t able to glove Luke Scott’s throw at the plate and prevent speedy Emilio Bonifacio from scoring the winning run in the 12th inning of Tuesday’s 7-6 loss to the Marlins. “An above-average throw … a play I should have made,” Zaun explained afterward on MASN.
Earlier in the inning Zaun failed to knock down Brian Bass’ wild pitch – an errant but blockable throw that put Bonifacio on second base.
Both were tough plays, but since when are passionate baseball fans fair in their snap judgments at the end of an emotional game?
Nevertheless, even the cold-hearted, cynical baseball fan has to feel for Zaun, who initially was keeping the catcher’s position warm for Matt Wieters and is now keeping the bench warm to allow Wieters to blossom. You want to see a veteran like that succeed when he gets his chances.
So my message is this: Save your anger for Ty Wiggington. (That’s another post altogether.)
Okay, the larger point – regardless of what happened with Zaun in extras – is that Wieters’ efforts behind the plate deserve attention.
Admittedly, the rookie phenom’s bat can be distracting, especially on a night when he went 2-for-4 with a home run and 2 RBIs, but consider also Wieters’ composure in some tight defensive spots on Tuesday, and you can see why the guy could become a special player.
Bottom of the fifth inning. Dan Uggla led off the home half with a game-tying home run, and the Marlins suddenly were putting good wood on Koji Uehara’s previously strong offerings. The floodgates appeared ready to part as Florida loaded the bases with one out.
Then, Koji fielded a tough shot from Bonifacio – there’s that guy again – and tossed to Wieters covering home. Wieters calmly converted the double play with a strong throw to first. It seemed like a routine effort because it was so well executed. And for that, Wieters – who was only part of the play, but a keep part at that – deserves credit.
Meanwhile, Wieters blocked some tough pitches in the dirt during key situations in a tight contest that kept Marlins runners from advancing on the base paths.
So my second, more important message is this: Don’t get distracted by Zaun’s miscue(s). Instead, focus on what his mentee, Matt Wieters, is doing behind the plate. It’s worth noticing.