EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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November 24, 2012

Sox pitchers will enjoy throwing to new catcher Ross

Any catcher worth his salt knows the type of attention his pitching staff deserves.

”Put it this way: You’ve got usually 35, 36 at-bats that a pitcher is going to face (a game) — maybe more,” said former Gold Glover Mike LaValliere, who caught for the Phillies, Cardinals, Pirates and White Sox from 1984-1995. “You got three or four of your own (at-bats). That should tell you right there (what’s most important).”

LaValliere attended New Hampshire’s Trinity High, then played at UMass Lowell. The 1987 National League Gold Glove winner was a guest at the Granite State Baseball Dinner in Manchester last Saturday and took some time to chat with The Eagle-Tribune about Boston’s new defensive-oriented catcher David Ross and the importance of the catcher position in general.

A catcher must gain the trust of his pitching staff. Lavalliere was able to do that. Throughout his career, his pitchers combined for a 3.49 ERA when he was behind the plate.

”If your pitchers know that you know what you’re doing back there, they will probably have a little bit more conviction in throwing what you want them to throw,” he said. “If you’re a guy who is just like, ‘Let’s go get them out’ without doing any research, then I think guys have a tendency to go, ‘I’m ready but I’m not sure he is.’

“Some (catchers) can’t function by putting too much information in front of them. Some guys thrive on it.”

Ross is the type of catcher who puts emphasis on getting the best results out of his pitchers. He should help Boston’s staff bounce back after it ranked 27th out of 30 major league teams with a dismal 4.70 ERA in 2012.

”Here’s a guy that’s got experience,” LaValliere said. “The biggest thing is that he’s coming from a winning organization. He’s got a winning attitude. Is he an everyday guy? I don’t know.”

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