White Sox' southpaw catcher-third baseman is a baseball rarity
A lot of people who sit in director's chairs in Hollywood are convinced that Manager Tony LaRussa of the Chicago White Sox, if he had the chance, would cast Orson Welles as Peter Pan!
The reason they have reached this conclusion is that LaRussa, an independent thinker, has chosen to ignore baseball's unwritten law that says you never use a left-hander at either third base or catcher.
Several times this year Tony has employed defensive specialist and part-time first baseman Mike Squires in just that way, usually in the late innings. Twice he has even started Squires at third - and both times White Sox pitchers have turned in shutout victories.
The case against using a left-hander at third is that he might be handcuffed by slowly hit balls down the line, particularly bunts, which often place him in awkward positions from which to throw. The supposed problem for a southpaw behind the plate is that anytime a right-handed hitter is up, he must compensate for the batter's obstruction whenever it becomes necessary to throw to second base.
''Nonsense,'' says Squires, pointing out that a right-handed catcher has the same problem, if not quite as frequently, anytime a left-handed batter is up there.
''Actually catching is easier in some ways than third base because everything is right in front of you,'' Mike said. ''The tough part is finding a mitt that feels comfortable on my right hand because there just aren't that many to choose from.''
As for having to handle bunts at third base, Squires says that so far nobody has tested him, except in spring training.
''In Florida, I'm one-for-two on bunts,'' he said. ''But the guy who reached against me laid down a perfect bunt. A right-hander wouldn't have gotten the ball either. Anyway that possibility is something that I am very aware of, and I think most opposing players figure it's better for them to hit away than try to bunt when the situation doesn't really call for it.''
LaRussa launched his experiment last season, and when the statisticians got through checking, it turned out Squires was the first left-handed thrower to play third base in the majors in 47 years. When he was asked why he had decided to put Mike in such a spot, Tony replied: