A few passed balls can ruin any catcher’s All-Star Game experience, so Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield is bringing along a secret weapon to help out the unlucky soul who gets chosen as his battery mate.
Flying with Wakefield to St. Louis will be a custom-made catcher’s mitt that personal Wakefield backstop George Kottaras uses as a backup.
The current Sox catcher didn’t want to give up his everyday mitt — a glove Wakefield has had for 13 seasons that’s also hugged the left hands of Jason Varitek, Doug Mirabelli and Scott Hatteberg.
“Louisville Slugger made that one for me,” Wakefield told Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald. “It’s actually a fast-pitch softball catcher’s mitt. It looks like a big first baseman’s mitt.”
Luckily for the 17-year veteran, two teammates on the AL roster have experience catching the knuckle ball. Minnesota’s Joe Mauer has been on the receiving end of Twins knuckleballer R.A. Dickey while Detroit’s Brandon Inge – primarily a third baseman nowadays — has had experience catching Steve Sparks, who also owns the knuckler.
“Yeah, I know exactly how to catch the knuckleball,” Inge explained. “You run to the backstop and pick it up.”
The Tigers third baseman isn’t about to volunteer to catch Wake’s whirling pearl.
“To be honest,” Inge said, “my priority is the Detroit Tigers. Being in the All-Star Game is the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I’m very excited, but I’d have to talk to my team before I’d do that. I don’t want my first All-Star experience to be trying to catch Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball.”
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