DENVER -- When Brian McCann didn't even touch the third-strike fastball that Clint Barmes swung at and missed in the eighth inning of Tuesday night's loss to the Rockies, there was reason to wonder if the Braves catcher was once again experiencing the vision problems that affected him at the start of the past two seasons.
But it turns out the passed ball was actually directly influenced by the vision problems that Takashi Saito experiences during night games. Instead of signaling pitches to the 40-year-old reliever by simply putting a certain number of fingers between their legs, Braves catchers are forced to provide signs in the manner that a third-base coach does.
After signaling for a breaking ball, McCann was unable to react to the high fastball that wasn't impeded until it hit umpire Lance Barksdale in the right shoulder. The resulting passed ball nullified what would have been an inning-ending strikeout and gave Dexter Fowler a chance to give the Rockies a three-run lead with his two-run single.
"If you're sitting slider and you're expecting a pitch at 82 [mph] and somebody throws it [94 mph], it's tough," McCann said. "If it was in the zone, I might have been able to catch it. But it was by me before I could do anything."
McCann and backup catcher David Ross will continue to provide Saito signals in the manner that they have throughout the season during night games.
"We got crossed up last night in a ... situation," McCann said. "But no, it doesn't really happen that often."