Just when you think you've seen every oddity in baseball, another one pops up. That's what's great about the game the improbable is still possible.
In a Texas League game against the Corpus Christi Hooks on Aug. 1, Midland RockHounds third baseman Vinnie Catricala (Jesuit High School) was the centerpiece of one of the most bizarre at-bats imaginable.
On one pitch, he struck out.
In the sixth inning, Catricala, who homered in his previous at-bat off Hooks starter Nick Tropeano, took a borderline first-pitch curveball called a strike by plate umpire Ron Teague. Catricala questioned the call before stepping out of the batter's box. Putting the bat under his arm and tugging at his batting gloves, Catricala showed no rush to step back into the box.
Less than four seconds passed when an annoyed Teague decided Catricala was in violation of Rule 6.02 (c) and called a strike without a pitch being thrown.
Rule 6.02 (c) states: "If the batter refuses to take his position in the batter's box during his time at bat, the umpire shall call a strike on the batter. The ball is dead, and no runners may advance. After the penalty, the batter may take his proper position and the regular ball and strike count shall continue. If the batter does not take his proper position before three strikes have been called, the batter shall be declared out.
"Comment: The umpire shall give the batter a reasonable opportunity to take his proper position in the batter's box after the umpire has called a strike pursuant to Rule 6.02(c) and before the umpire calls a successive strike pursuant to Rule 6.02(c)."
After the automatic strike was called, Catricala didn't say a word. In fact, upon video replay, he may not have even known a strike had been called. With Catricala still out of the batter's box, Teague called another strike strike three and only one pitch thrown.
Catricala argued and was ejected. All told, he spent 9.4 seconds outside the batter's box.
Catricala could not be reached for comment. His father, David Catricala (Jesuit), said, "This thing has been blown out of proportion," and his son is "tired of all the attention and just wants it all to die down."
Eddie Cervantes (Johnson) tells the story of Gary Rios (Burbank), who was having an awful 1971 season in pro ball at Pulaski of the rookie Appalachian League. Late in the season during an at-bat, Rios hit a dribbler in front of home plate and was so frustrated he ran out, picked up the ball and threw himself out at first base.
Williamsport Crosscutters third baseman Zach Green (Jesuit) and State College Spikes outfielder Jimmy Bosco (Jesuit) were named to the National League team for the Short-Season A New York-Penn League All-Star Game on Tuesday at Dodd Stadium, home of the Connecticut Tigers.
Corpus Christi catcher Max Stassi (Yuba City) and Bluefield pitcher Brady Dragmire (Bradshaw Christian) were named players of the week in their leagues. Stassi earned his second Texas League honor, going 4 for 4 with a homer and two doubles in one game, falling a double short of the cycle in another and adding multiple hits in two more games. Dragmire pitched five innings in relief and five innings as a starter, allowing two hits and striking out 10 for the Appalachian League honor.
You can't believe everything you see in the movies. Just to set the record straight, Atlanta Braves scout Gus Lobel did not sign Dusty Baker (Del Campo), as depicted in the Clint Eastwood movie "Trouble with the Curve." In the real world, Lobel never existed. Bill Wight signed Baker.
Throwing strikes is the name of the game, and Jacksonville right-hander Bryan Evans (UC Davis) has had pinpoint control. In 51 innings, he has struck out 57 and walked only two.
Former River Cats pitcher Dan Meyer was one of the first to speak out after Major League Baseball suspended 13 players in the Biogenesis scandal. In 2011, Meyer was beaten out for a bullpen spot with the Philadelphia Phillies by Antonio Bastardo, one of the players suspended Monday.
Many of those suspended were fringe players who may have taken roster spots from clean players. Meyer is not the first player to get beaten out by a performance-enhancing drug user and won't be the last.
A frustrated Meyer tweeted: "Hey Antonio Bastardo, remember when we competed for a job in 2011. Thx a lot." There was another word, but it was unprintable.
Mark McDermott is a freelance writer specializing in Sacramento-area baseball. Contact him at email@example.com.