Provided Rob Johnson is healthy enough to start the season — and there have been recent signs of encouragement — manager Don Wakamatsu is sure sounding like someone prepared to go with a combination of Johnson and rookie Adam Moore behind the plate in 2010.
Just listen to these comments today from Wakamatsu when asked if he wants to make sure that Johnson, coming off hip and wrist surgery, can play in back-to-back games before the team breaks camp.
“The luxury of having two guys you trust, it’s not as critical,” he said. “If we can break here with Rob feeling good, catching a couple days in a row, and we feel the confidence in Adam, it gives Adam the chance to catch five days a week, or four. We could pick and choose, rest Rob on certain days. We’re going to get Adam another start with Felix, just to cover our bases.”
Johnson, who was sent down today for some at-bats in a minor-league game, was stiff after his last start, but “came in today feeling great,” Wakamatsu said. “The good thing is, it’s more in his muscles than his joints. That’s just getting his legs in shape.”
Wakamatsu believes it’s possible to develop a young catcher while he’s in the major leagues, even if he’s not necessarily playing every day.
“Everyone says if you have a young kid, he has to catch five or six days a week,” he said. “I don’t necessarily believe that. I never have. There’s things we can work on when they’re not playing that day that can help them improve. I actually like it better. We can take them out and work on plays at the plate, or blocking, or throwing, develop these guys.
“I like fact they’re two young guys we really trust, and we can have them awhile. One can possibly play better than the other and we lead down that road. But it’s nice to have not necessarily a starter, and then a backup that plays 30 games a year. You have the luxury if one gets hurt, the other can play every day, and that’s hard to find.”
The Mariners may try to play Johnson in back-to-back games next Thursday and Friday.