Mathis excelling behind the plate

Mathis excelling behind the plate

Mathis excelling behind the plate

MIAMI -- A reunion with a former Minor League coordinator seems to have worked wonders for Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis.

After spending six seasons with the Angels and recording a caught-stealing rate of just 23 percent, that statistic jumped to 41 percent last year with the Blue Jays.

Mathis began to notice the difference while working with Don Wakamatsu, who was the bench coach for Toronto.

"It was fun getting back together and working with him again," Mathis said. "He worked with me letting the ball travel and get to me and [then] loading. It took a lot of stress off my arm, and made me feel a lot more accurate."

"I wasn't maximizing everything I could. At times I tried to do too much and throw every guy out, and in reality you can't. Sometimes the base is stolen off the pitcher. You just have to stay within yourself and try to make a good accurate throw."

That success has transferred over in Miami. Over 10 starts, the 30-year-old has thrown out 80 percent (8-of-10) of runners trying to steal. If he had enough appearances to qualify, he would lead all Major League catchers.

Rob Brantly and Miguel Olivo have caught another 16 runners -- on 47 chances -- for a 34 percent clip.

"I think everyone as a whole is throwing the ball really well," Mathis said. "That's a tribute to the pitchers, too. Giving us a chance, mixing up their looks."

Christina De Nicola is a contributor to Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.