One of the most unusual and incredible double plays started to form like a quilt of baseball development long before Ramon Laureano raced to the warning track in 2018.
There was the time Laureano spent long-tossing as a kid, building arm strength. The high school days when he pitched, improving his throwing mechanics. The words of Rodney Linares, a former manager of Laureano's in the Houston farm system and now the Rays' third base coach, who encouraged Laureano to throw straight to the bases. "We would have infield every single day in the minors," Laureano said the other day, "and my throwing got better without me even thinking about it."
There is the pre-pitch visualization, the anticipation that turns a defender's thought into reflex. On the night of Aug. 11, 2018, when Laureano was stationed in center field for the Athletics, he imagined what might be -- Justin Upton, at the plate for the Angels, driving the ball to his right. "I thought about that play two pitches before that," he recalled. "I saw that in my head. 'OK, Upton hits a liner to my right, and I'm just going to run through the wall. I don't care, I've struck out two times already.'"