One of the functions of spring is for managers to look at some players in different positions to see if they can handle it if the need arises. With the distinct possibility that the M’s will carry three catchers — Miguel Olivo, Jesus Montero and John Jaso — some versatility could come in handy.
In yesterday’s intrasquad game, Jaso played first base for an inning, and made an instant impression. On a smash down the line by third-base prospect Francisco Martinez, Jaso made a diving stop to his left to rob Martinez. Not bad for a guy whose first-base experience is limited to four innings in the major leagues, and 15 games in the minors, all in A Ball.
“Not being over there a lot, I knew the ball was going to come at me,” he said, laughing. “It wasn’t going to dribble at me, it was going to be hit hard. I think I was ready as I could be. It was almost one of those moments where you black out and wake up, and it’s in your glove.”
Despite his inexperience at first base, Jaso said, “I feel comfortable, I feel confident, all that stuff.”
Carlos Guillen is probably first in line to back up first baseman Justin Smoak, but his health is a big question. Of course, Mike Carp has vast experience at first base. But Jaso hopes to make himself as versatile as he can, and is willing to tackle first base in a pinch.
“Maybe my bat is hot one time, something like that, and that (first base) is a good option. It boosts my resume a little bit, too.”
Jaso was acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay on Nov. 27. Two months later, the M’s picked up Montero, a move that obviously has implications for him. But Jaso said he welcomes the addition because of the offense it adds to the ballclub. He views Montero as an asset, not a threat.
“I haven’t made the team yet,” he said. “Basically, before he came here, I hadn’t made the team yet. It doesn’t really change anything. It’s good this team is adding people like him.”
Jaso says he sees signs of a young team coalescing similar to what happened to Tampa Bay a few years ago, when after 10 straight losing seasons they made the playoffs three out of the the next four years.
“What’s nice, being over here, is this is a good clubhouse for that to happen,” he said. “If it was a divided clubhouse, it would be a lot harder for the puzzle to come together, but this clubhouse it pretty easy-going. There are no bad attitudes or anything like that. This is a good environment for things to happen.”