Anthony Rizzo Caught Peeking at Catcher for Location, Signs? (Pictures)

San Diego Padres top prospect Anthony Rizzo was called up to the Majors Thursday and had a successful debut. He went 1-for-2 with a triple, a run scored, two walks, and a strikeout helping the Padres beat the Nats 7-3. Rizzo was lauded by the announcers for having such a great eye for the strike zone, but maybe that’s only because he’s breaking the baseball code by sneaking peeks at the catcher to see where he’s setting up and possibly signs.

LBS correspondent Alan Hull informed us that MLB Network showed some clips of Rizzo peeking back at the catcher. We missed the MLB Network segment, but we went through all of Rizzo’s at-bats Thursday to see what we could find. He didn’t appear to check the signs his first two at-bats, but in his last two at-bats (both with men on), he seemed to peek back. Here are a few pictures where you can see his eyes looking back towards the catcher:

Here are two more pictures of Anthony Rizzo looking back at the catcher:

The pictures don’t quite do it justice, but if you watched him carefully you could see his eyes shift for a split second every few moments. Since this was the first time I’d ever seen Rizzo hit, I didn’t want to jump to conclusions about him stealing signs. I was thinking of the possible explanations for his eyes wandering, figuring it was possible he has a twitch or that he just does this on a regular basis. But when I saw clips of him batting in the minors, I didn’t see his eyes peeking, and his eyes didn’t shift backwards during his first two at-bats. Maybe this is only something he does when there are men on because he thinks he can get away with it. Or maybe he was nervous about being in the Majors and he wanted to have a successful debut, so he tried to sneak a few peeks. I’m not sure what was going on there, I just know that once word gets around he won’t be doing it for long.

Around The Web

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1196194483 Kevin Mercado

    do a better job of hiding them.

  • http://twitter.com/duanexharris Duane Michael Harris

    This post is a complete waste of time. If you have ever played real Baseball, you would know that you cant see the catcher’s signs from the box by a mere shift of the eyes but would have to physically move your neck. I do the same thing and by no means am I trying to steal signs as it’s just a ocd thing I do during my at-bats.

    Rizzo did this during ST too so it’s not new.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    How come he doesn’t do it during all his at-bats? And actually, shifting your eyes the way he was, you can peek and see if a fastball or offspeed pitch is coming. That’s all you need.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Caleb-Parkinson/100002199235886 Caleb Parkinson

    While I do not share Duane’s animosity towards this post. He is correct is saying that you cannot see the cather’s pitch call by simply shifting your eyes like that. What you can see is where the cather is positioning himself for the pitch, which can be very useful and really isn’t against the rules or any kind of code. It’s up to the cather to wait until the windup to move himself in order to prevent the hitter from anticipating location. If he moves to early, then that’s his own fault.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    I tried shifting my eyes to see if you can pick up signs, and you can. Not something I ever did after that, but as a former pitcher, wanted to see if you can. 

  • http://twitter.com/RumorsandRants RumorsandRants

    Having played baseball at a very high level in southern California, I can tell you it’s almost impossible to steal signs this way if the catcher has any idea what he’s doing. More likely the catcher is shifting around a lot to distract Rizzo and he’s looking back to see what’s going on. It’s a trick catchers use on a lot of rookies.

    Accusing him of stealing signs with this small a sample size is kind of harsh. We’ll see over the next few weeks what happens.

    Also, if the catcher is blatantly putting his signs out there to be seen (and again, from that angle it’s almost impossible to see them), Rizzo definitely isn’t the only one looking. It may be illegal to steal signs, but if the catcher is obvious about it, teams will do it. Anything to get an advantage.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    I agree it’s difficult to see signs from the box by peeking back, but he did it so frequently that’s what made me say he was looking for the signs. Either way, as someone who has played, I think you can agree that that behavior is frowned upon and will get a player hit. I know if I caught a batter doing that I would hit him with the next pitch and let him know not to do it again.

  • David Garfinkel

    All of those at-bats were with runners on 2nd base, right?  If so, wouldn’t the catcher be giving many signs anyways, so the runner on second couldn’t pick up on them?

  • http://twitter.com/RumorsandRants RumorsandRants

    I agree it’s frowned upon and understand the instinct to say he’s stealing signs right away, but some guys also have a habit of looking down at the plate, just to see where they’re positioned. Plus, hitters have little twitches they do all the time. Looking down or to the side might be one of those for Rizzo.

    All I can say at this point is that the Nationals don’t think he’s stealing signs, or they’d have thrown at him already. They haven’t. That should pretty much tell you everything you need to know.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    I haven’t seen any of his at-bats since then, but he probably stopped doing it. As I wrote, he only did it two of his four ABs Thursday anyhow. That to me takes away from the argument that he does it as part of his routine. I think he just did it a few times to get an edge, the Nats didn’t realized it, and he hasn’t done it since.

  • http://twitter.com/ebradlee10 Brad Youtz

    Steve Garvey was the best at this back in the day.

    At the last second before the pitcher threw, he has his bat over the plate, at waist height just looking at it.  His peripheral vision allowed him that little advantage.