MLB.com Columnist

Jesse Sanchez

Foul play in press box, but was it a catch?

Foul play in press box, but was it a catch?

PHOENIX -- There was plenty of foul play in the press box at Chase Field on Friday night.

Late in the game between the Rockies and the D-backs, a foul ball made its way toward the press box behind home plate. While most reporters scattered, one man, MLB.com's D-backs beat reporter Steve Gilbert, rose to the occasion.

The ball caromed off the front ledge of the press box and bounced off the wall behind Gilbert. The veteran reporter caught it with one hand and handed it off to the reporter sitting next to him, all in one motion. He remained stoic the entire play.

It was Gilbert's best press-box catch in a more than a decade, and he's been sitting on press row at Chase Field since the ballpark opened.

"I just did what came natural," Gilbert said. "I just followed my instincts. Sometimes, you come up with it and sometimes you don't. That's baseball, man."

Baseball insiders immediately ruled it "a nice play, but not a catch," but Gilbert played coy.

Kyle Payne, who works in the social media department for the D-backs and has dropped at least three foul balls hit into the press box this season, concurred that it was not a catch, and if it had been, he should be given credit for catching foul balls into the press box off the bounce.

"I should get credit for at least one of mine," Payne said. "Steve's bounced like three or four times before he caught it. No way that's a catch. I dropped the other two, so whatever."

D-backs radio pregame and postgame host Mike Ferrin chimed in and gave credit to Gilbert for the catch.

"If not for Steve's lightning-quick reflexes and laser focus, we could have had a serious injury in the press box," Ferrin said. "[Arizona Republic beat reporter] Nick [Piecoro] was scared.

"Nick is so fragile. So delicate, that I perish to think what even a glancing blow from that bouncing ball would have done to him."

The question remains: Is it a catch if a foul ball bounces off something first before it lands in your hands?

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.