There’s no lonelier and agonizing feeling on the baseball field than being a catcher rolling around in the dirt near home plate after taking a foul ball in the family jewels.
Yes, you’re surrounded by people hoping the pain isn’t too bad, but the fact is the pain is gruesome, if not everlasting, and there’s nada that anyone can do about it.
That would be the way it was for Luke Montz in the latter stages of Saturday’s game against the Angels. A foul tip hit the edge of the plate and the dirt beneath him and hopped up and caught him in a spot where the best protection is like no protection at all.
“I’m a catcher, it’s happened before,’’ Montz said Sunday. “In the end, I’ll remember hitting the homer off (Angels’ ace Jered) Weaver more than this.’’
That’s in the future. For the present, Montz is still in a little pain, and it doesn’t help any when his teammates come by his locker to check on him. Or tease him. Or both.
“I came in today thinking I’d at least get a chance to take some swings,’’ Montz said. “They told me I’m not doing any work today. Hopefully tomorrow.’’
He’s the club’s No. 3 catcher, so he figures to start the season at Triple-A Sacramento, although after 29 homers at Triple-A New Orleans last year, he’d hoped for a return to the big leagues. He was in 10 games with Washington in 2008.
And manager Bob Melvin talked approvingly of how tough Montz is.
“There he was, rolling around in the dirt, and he’s telling me `I’m going to finish the inning,’ ’’ Melvin, himself a former catcher, said. “That’s a catcher for you.’’
Montz did finish the inning. And, someday, he’ll remember his second-inning homer off Weaver more than the foul tip.
“I was great to get a chance to start against him,’’ Montz said. “I thought I battled him pretty good. And it’s nice to know that Bob (Melvin) had nice things to say.’’
Those catchers have to stick together.