White Sox catcher Geovany Soto says he doesn’t have the yips

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Josh Reddick scores past Geovany Soto during the sixth inning Friday in Oakland, Calif. | Ben Margot/AP

OAKLAND, Calif. — Geovany Soto’s ritual after every pitch has mystified baseball fans, and on Friday night, A’s broadcaster Eric Chavez seemed to believe Soto suffered from some version of the “yips.”

The White Sox catcher falls forward every time he throws the ball back to the pitcher, and he appears to grab some dirt in his throwing hand and wipe off home plate after each pitch.

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It’s an odd sight behind the plate, and Chavez, a 17-year veteran, took notice.

“He wants everybody to think it’s a routine to grab the dirt and get a good grip on the ball,” Chavez said during Friday night’s telecast. “But really, he’s hiding. … Something traumatic has to have happened to put you in that state of mind. I don’t know if he made a couple bad throws or something, but something triggered it.”

Soto, a one-time All-Star and Rookie of the Year with the Cubs in 2008, said Saturday that he started falling forward in his follow through after returning from knee surgery last year.

Soto described the motion as a “habit” and nothing more. Asked if there was any truth to Chavez’s comments about the “yips,” Soto said: “No, I don’t think so.”

The rest of his routine, he said, is just clearing pebbles away from the plate to prevent the ball from taking a bad bounce.

“If it hits there the ball is gonna jump over your head,” Soto said. “So you want to keep the area clear for a good bounce.”

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