Bailey, Sabol put on defensive clinic vs. speedy D-backs

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Bailey, Sabol put on defensive clinic vs. speedy D-backs originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO — Giants rookie catchers Patrick Bailey and Blake Sabol stymied a speedy Arizona Diamondbacks team in a 4-3 win Tuesday at Oracle Park.

Sabol started the game behind the plate and delivered the first defensive highlight when he fired a missile to second base that nabbed Geraldo Perdomo to end the top of the fourth inning.

In speaking to reporters after the game, Giants starting pitcher Alex Cobb shared that Sabol has been putting in extra work with Giants bullpen and catching coach Craig Albernaz behind the scenes and his improvements have been quite noticeable.

“It’s just different when I’ve been used to his pop time and his arm strength and whatever that was tonight was just different,” Cobb said. “His release time, the accuracy of the throw, the life behind it, it just whizzed by my head and you can tell it was different right then and I just hoped I had given him enough time to make a play and he did, it was very impressive.”

Coincidentally, Sabol’s mentor behind the plate is none other than Bailey, a fellow rookie who is one year his junior but has a veteran-like presence that Giants pitchers have leaned on ever since his promotion to the big leagues on May 19.

“I’m feeling good back there, I’ve been working a lot of Albie, the ‘unseen hours’ as he likes to call it,” Sabol told Laura Britt, Carlos Ramirez and Sean Estes on “Giants Postgame Live.” “But even having Patrick on the team who, in my opinion, is the top defensive catcher in the league. I’ve been watching a lot of video of him throwing and kind of learning from him.

“I was making jokes tonight, getting a throw-out at second then he goes in there and throws a guy out from his knees and then a back-pick, I’m like ‘alright alright now he’s gone to the advanced part of his crash course’ for me, so I’ll be looking at those videos and hopefully continue to get better and learn from him.”

Sabol’s progress behind the plate has not gone unnoticed. Both Cobb and Bailey discussed how impressed they are with the rookie’s continued development and applauded Sabol’s growth while he balances playing the outfield and DHing.

“I remember seeing him in spring,” Bailey said postgame. “I would say the throwing might have been the biggest struggle, but from what you see today it’s pretty night and day which is really cool to see. All the credit to him for the work he’s put in. To do what he does is pretty cool with playing almost every day against right-handed pitching in the outfield and DH and then to be able to catch as well is pretty special.”

As Sabol mentioned, it didn’t take long for Bailey, who entered the game as a defensive replacement in the top of the eighth, to one-up his rookie counterpart. With no outs and a runner on first, Bailey threw out D-backs third baseman Jace Peterson at second base.

And then for good measure, Bailey capped off the Giants’ win with an exclamation point, back-picking Perdomo at first base for the third out in the ninth.

In a season that began with the catcher position being the biggest question mark on the roster, the Giants not only have turned it into a strength but are thriving with two rookies leading the way at the most difficult position in the game.

“Our catching was as responsible as anything else for winning that came,” manager Gabe Kapler told reporters postgame. “I actually think our catching has been excellent all the way through, obviously since Pat joined us. Sabol’s been really good as well, doing a really nice job back there framing and leading a staff. I think our pitchers are now very comfortable with both Blake and Pat, which is really what we were aiming for when we got those two together. And then Pat can really change the game with his defense as we saw today and there’s very few catchers around the game that can do that.

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