Tim Neverett’s ‘View From the Red Sox Radio Booth’
When Sandy Leon crouches behind the plate for the top team in Major League Baseball, it seems the Red Sox hardly ever lose. They don’t lose much these days anyway, but the success the Red Sox pitchers are having with the 29-year-old Venezuelan catching is uncanny and perhaps never seen before in these parts.
The numbers are there and they are the proverbial elephant in the room. The Red Sox have won 28 of the last 31 games Leon has started as of Friday and he leads MLB with a 3.05 catcher’s era with over 2000 plate appearances against. Keep your eye on the pitchers when he catches. See how many times they shake him off when he puts down a sign. It happens about as often as the Red Sox have lost this month; hardly ever.
The best pitcher in baseball right now is Chris Sale and he has never this season shaken a sign given to him by Leon. “Not once,” Leon told me this week in the Red Sox clubhouse in Philadelphia while trying to keep his explanation of his pitcher/catcher relationship with Sale simple.
“You have to put down the right fingers. No
matter what sign I put down, I know I am going to get 100 percent from him. He’s nasty. That helps.”
The favorite for this year’s American League Cy Young Award has total trust in his catcher, and just think about the stunning results. David Price’s performances have been consistently good with Leon handling the game-calling and 2016 A.L. Cy Young Award winner, Rick Porcello, has the utmost respect for his catcher.
“He has a natural talent for seeing hitters, for seeing their swings, knowing his pitchers on the mound, and he takes all that into play,” Porcello told me after his ten-strikeout, two-hit, one-run outing against the Phillies on Tuesday.
“Aside from that is his preparation,” Porcello marveled post game. “I mean, I have never seen a catcher work as hard as he does on both sides of the ball. He’s in the video room as much as I am. He’s not looking at his swing. He’s looking at other hitters and how we are going to attack them. He remembers everything we do during a game; setting guys up for later at-bats. He’s incredible, really. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the best catcher in the Big Leagues. We are lucky to have him. I am lucky to throw to him.”
Red Sox Manager, Alex Cora, has been impressed also. “We are very proud of him,” Cora told me this week. “He worked hard in the offseason to lose weight. He was very patient earlier in the season when he wasn’t playing. Once he got his chance to play he has been outstanding. He is actually making a run to be a Gold Glove catcher.”
Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon this week
One of the biggest fundraisers for the Red Sox organization’s most notable charity, The Jimmy Fund, will occur this week. The 17th annual WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon will take place this Tuesday and Wednesday. Since 2002, this effort has raised over 49 million dollars for the Jimmy Fund in support of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, helping kids with cancer. During the two Red Sox Radio and Television broadcasts on August 21st and 22nd, we will introduce you to doctors, patients, generous donors and survivors who all have compelling stories. I hope you will take the time to tune in and help out, if you can.
The Red Sox wrap up their series with the Tampa Bay Rays this afternoon at Fenway at 1:05 p.m. with Chris Sale on the mound. The Cleveland Indians come to town to begin a four-game set starting tomorrow night.
Tim Neverett is in his third season as Red Sox Radio Play-By-Play Announcer for the WEEI Red Sox Radio Network throughout New England. Tim can be followed on Twitter @timneverett