A day hasn’t gone by this homestand without Roger Hansen, the Mariners’ longtime catching coordinator and current bench coach, putting either Adam Moore or Josh Bard or both through some sort of mid-afternoon fundamental drill.
Today, it was Moore and the focus was foul popups.
Hansen had a machine at home plate shooting baseballs high into the air — at all angles — with Moore springing out of his crouch to locate the popups, then settling under them to make the catch. Fairly placid duty, you’d think, especially compared with the days he has the catcher block pitches in the dirt, which can leave welts and bruises.
A few minutes ago, Hansen shot one popup toward the Mariners’ dugout and Moore put his eyes on the ball and sprinted toward where he though it would land. One problem. The ball drifted, and kept drifting, and so did Moore. At nearly full speed, he disappeared down the dugout stairs just as the baseball did.
There was a scream or two from the few in the ballpark watching, fearful that Moore might not reappear. He didn’t for nearly a minute, although Hansen certainly didn’t seem concerned, leaning on the machine at the plate without expression.
Had the legend of this tough coach grown? Naw.
Moore made his way back up the dugout stairs and onto the field, had a few words with Hansen, then dropped into his crouch for another copule of popups before they ended the drill.
It would only be fitting if Moore gets the chance to make a great catch beside the dugout tonight against the Angels. He’s back in the lineup, batting eighth.
A few notes before we go downstairs to see how Moore enjoyed his popup drill:
Here is tonight’s Mariners lineup:
Ichiro Suzuki, right field
Chone Figgins, second base
Franklin Gutierrez, center field
Russell Branyan, DH
Jose Lopez, third base
Casey Kotchman, first base
Michael Saunders, left field
Adam Moore, catcher
Josh Wilson, shortstop
Left-hander Jason Vargas (9-7, 3.53 ERA), starting pitcher