Pitching Coach Bob McClure Criticizes Catcher Cameron Rupp's Pitch Call on Bryce Harper Blast | NBC 10 Philadelphia

Pitching Coach Bob McClure Criticizes Catcher Cameron Rupp's Pitch Call on Bryce Harper Blast

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    Pitching Coach Bob McClure Criticizes Catcher Cameron Rupp's Pitch Call on Bryce Harper Blast
    CSNPhilly.com
    Pitching coach Bob McClure criticizes catcher Cameron Rupp's pitch call on Bryce Harper blast

    WASHINGTON -- Catcher Cameron Rupp's decision to go at dangerous Bryce Harper with a fastball in the decisive at-bat of Saturday night's loss to the Washington Nationals was sharply criticized by Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure during an interview before Sunday's Game 1 of a doubleheader.
     
    "I couldn't believe it," McClure told broadcaster Larry Andersen on the radio pregame show. "My mouth dropped. I just couldn't believe he threw a fastball. I might have to start calling pitches. I don't know."
     
    Later on Sunday, McClure insisted that he was not ripping his catcher in the radio interview.
     
    "It's really nothing that him and I hadn't talked about already," McClure said. "If it came out wrong, I apologize. I may have still been in the moment.
     
    "My intentions are not to rip him. It's to reiterate what we've been talking about. The only way to learn is to tell the truth."
     
    McClure met with Rupp early Sunday morning to go over the at-bat in which Harper bludgeoned a Edubray Ramos' 0-1 fastball over the wall in center field to give the Nats a 6-4 walk-off win.
     
    McClure made his comments to Andersen after speaking to Rupp.
     
    "Mac and I have talked," Rupp said. "Did he mean to rip me? No. I don't believe so.
     
    "We talked about the game, about situations. It's a mistake I made. I have to learn from it. Nothing crazy. There's more than one way to skin a cat. So there's another way to look at it. Next time, maybe Harper won't hit a home run."
     
    During his interview with Andersen, McClure talked about the importance of a catcher's being able to read a hitter's swing. Harper swung violently at Ramos' first pitch fastball. McClure believed that Rupp should have gone to school on that swing and called for an off-speed pitch.
     
    "Last night is a perfect example," McClure told Andersen. "Harper comes out of his shoes on a fastball up. I mean, out of his shoes, because he's got one thing on his mind: 'I just signed this contract and I'm going to show these fans I'm worth it,' right? He comes out of his shoes on a high fastball, just misses it. If that ball is eight inches lower it's a home run on the first pitch instead of the second pitch.
     
    "So if I'm pitching or if I'm catching, there's no way I'm throwing him a fastball. I don't care if it's down and away - I'm not throwing him a fastball. Whatever I'm throwing, I'm throwing down and away but it ain't going to be a fastball. It's going to be a change-up or a curveball. Not only that, our pitcher knows that lefties are hitting .067 [.071] against him on breaking balls when they put it in play. So those things combined and a catcher not being able to lead him into the right direction is a major problem.
     
    "I had a 45-minute meeting with the catchers today. I said, 'Listen, man, you have to call the right pitch, what you think is right for that situation to that guy whether the (pitcher) can do it or not.' In my opinion, you at least have to put the fingers down that signifies this is the right pitch, I think, to get him out. And fastball, obviously, wasn't it last night. Obviously.
     
    "You have to be able to see swings. It's very important to be able to see that."
     
    McClure spoke with Andersen about the need for catchers to keep things simple by working down and away in the strike zone.
     
    "A big thing for me is the catchers," McClure told Andersen. "I believe the catcher is the general. He has to lead. We have a very young staff, second youngest in baseball, maybe the youngest now. So when they're trying to do too much, it's not going to work. It's not. So I need the catcher to grasp what is right and what is wrong. No matter what the situation is, if you're going down and away hard and slow, you've got a shot. They might have to hit three singles to score a run. So my problem is not only with the pitchers trying to do much, which we're trying to rectify. Every meeting we have we talk to them about it. It's also the catchers trying to do too many things."
     
    After Sunday's game, McClure empathized with Rupp.
     
    "I just want him to be learning because he's only in his second year, too," McClure said. "I remember in my second year, it's like, your hair's on fire. You're almost trying to figure it out in a hurry. It's harder for catchers because they get the brunt of it.
     
    "But I would say most of the time - 95 to 98 percent of the time - what I tell Cam is: It's not the pitch, it's the location. That is mostly what I say. But this instance, for me, was not. It was the pitch."
     
    Rupp chalked up Harper's home run as a learning experience, though a difficult one.
     
    "Mac and I talked about what my thoughts were and what he might have done," Rupp said. "My way, well, it didn't work out."