Chris Iannetta is one of a handful of catchers in camp with the Arizona Diamondbacks, though he does not necessarily see battling for a job as his top priority.
“I don’t think it’s a matter of winning a job for anyone in camp, in all honesty, I think especially between Jeff (Mathis) and I because we have guaranteed contracts,” he told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Wednesday. “For us, it’s what can we do for the pitching staff, and how can we work in tandem to put them in the best position to succeed?”
Iannetta joined the D-backs on a one-year contract after playing for the Seattle Mariners last season. Arizona is the fourth team in 12 MLB campaigns for the career .229 hitter, who is known more for his defense than what he provides from the batter’s box.
Last season, Iannetta batted .210 with seven home runs and 24 RBI in 295 at-bats.
But again, he was not brought in for his offense — a fact he understands — and instead is here because of his ability to frame pitches and perhaps steal some strikes throughout the course of the season could prove valuable for his new team.
Iannetta does not necessarily like it being put that way, however.
“It’s not about stealing strikes as it is about all those pitches on the borderline that are strikes, making sure they get called strikes,” Iannetta said. “Because if you turn a strike into a ball, that’s a bigger issue than ‘stealing a strike.'”
Iannetta said he had a good season two years ago with framing pitches, but struggled some in that area last year. That concept was backed up by statistics, as he entered 2016 as one of the game’s best at it but then, according to CBSSports.com, went on to rank in the bottom 10 in that category. It comes down to his glove being in the right place and moving the right way when the pitch comes, and he admitted he never thought he would be judged as a catcher by his ability to do it.
“Because I’ve always gotten really good reviews from umpires,” he said, noting he was always complimented for giving them a good chance to see the pitch. “So I thought I was doing all the right things, and then you start looking at it from a statistics standpoint, there are areas I can tweak and there are some adjustments that I’ve made that made me a lot better at doing it.”