(Kelly Shoppach is greeted by Indians teammates after a three-run walkoff homer against Oakland in 2007. Photo by Associated Press).
It looks like Kelly Shoppach will become a Mariner, perhaps as soon as today, presumably slated to be Jesus Montero’s backup at catcher. He fills the void left by the departure of John Jaso, at least until the arrival of Mike Zunino. Here are some things to know about Shoppach:
1, Eight years into his major-league career, Shoppach finally stole his first base on April 14 last season — on his first attempt ever. You can see it here. It’s quite comical. I don’t want to give it away, but Cody Ross described the slide as “one of the best slides I’ve seen in my entire career….He slid a little early, Willie Mays Hayes-ish.”
Yes, that’s two Major League references in three days.
2, Shoppach led the American League in being hit by pitches (18) in 2009 — despite playing in just 89 games.
3, In the first playoff game of his career, with Cleveland in 2007, Shoppach had two doubles in a win over the Yankees. In his most recent playoff series, with Tampa Bay in 2009, Shoppach had two homers (both off C.J. Wilson) and five RBIs in a Game 1 win over Texas. No catcher had done that since Johnny Bench in the clinching game of the 1976 World Series.
4, Speaking of Texas, Shoppach grew up in the Fort Worth area, rushed for more than 1,000 yards in his final two years at Brewer High School, then attended Baylor. And speaking of Johnny Bench, Shoppach won the Johnny Bench Award as the top collegiate catcher in 2001. That’s the same award Mike Zunino won last year.
5, When Shoppach went on the disabled list with a knee injury in April of 2010, the Rays called up a rookie from Triple-A Durham for his second major-league stint (he had appeared in five games in 2008). That rookie was…John Jaso.
6, One of Shoppach’s teammates at Baylor was outfielder David Murphy, now a division rival with the Texas Rangers.
7, Before he was traded from Boston to the Mets last August, Shoppach wound up getting involuntarily mixed up in a messy situation that involved Red Sox players’ disenchantment with manager Bobby Valentine, and a text sent to management. Shoppach, however, denied the New York Daily News story that he, and not Adrian Gonzalez sent the text to ownership complaining about Valentine. In retrospect, and from the outside looking in, it kind of seems like much ado about little.
8, Shoppach’s best season as a major leaguer occurred with Cleveland in 2008, when he hit 21 homers and 27 doubles in 112 games, slugging a robust .517. His manager was Eric Wedge. Shoppach’s breakthrough season as a minor-leaguer occurred in 2004, when he hit 21 homers in Triple-A to set the Pawtucket record for homers by a catcher (he also had one as a DH). Shoppach surpassed the old mark of 20 homers hit by a Pawtucket catcher in 1995 by…Eric Wedge.
9, On July 26, 2010, Matt Garza threw the first no-hitter in Tampa Bay Rays history against the Detroit Tigers. And Shoppach caught it.
10. Shoppach can be followed on Twitter at @ShopHouse10. However, his last tweet occurred on Oct. 12.