June 8, 2013 at 12:18 PM
Brandon Bantz gets to live the dream with Mariners today
Just a few weeks back, Brandon Bantz was a sub-.200 hitter in Class AA with what looked to be a very limited professional future in baseball. Now, because of organizational circumstances and Mariners roster decisions, Bantz will make his major league debut today as a starting catcher.
He’ll be part of a battery with Joe Saunders, one of the handful of Seattle pitchers he hasn’t caught yet, given his time with others in the minors.
No, it isn’t a perfect arrangement. Unless, of course, you happen to be Bantz, whose unusual story isn’t likely to happen to too many others. But Jesus Sucre isn’t healing as fast as the Mariners had hoped and today was placed on the 15-day DL. That means the initial plan to use Kelly Shoppach once again today was shelved and Bantz inserted in the lineup, knowing that Shoppach faces a long workload ahead.
“He tested everything yesterday and it’s not what we had hoped or even anticipated,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of Sucre.
Carlos Triunfel is back up from AAA to take Sucre’s MLB spot.
With Sucre, there are supposedly no broken bones in the hand. But there is likely a deep bone bruise and also some type of ligament soreness, Wedge said, that’s making it difficult for him to even catch a ball, let alone swing a bat.
As for Bantz, the team will see how he does today and make decisions based off of that.
If he’s an absolute disaster behind the plate, then the team will have some decisions to make.
They’ve been running Shoppach into the ground and using him as an everyday catcher when he should be a two-day-per-week backup at this stage in his career has taken a huge toll on his hitting numbers. A month ago, he was hitting .264 with an OPS of .843.
Now, after the team stopped playing Jesus Montero and made Shoppach a de facto No. 1 guy, then with the latest Sucre injury after Montero’s demotion, Shoppach is hitting .194 with a .629 OPS.
Now, the team looks for defense first from its catchers, as do many clubs. But when you’ve got so many black holes permeating the Mariners’ lineup on a routine basis, adding one more in Shoppach isn’t going to help matters.
Last I checked, I was told the Mariners had a real solid-hitting catching prospect down in AAA. Guess he’s not ready yet. For now, the Mariners are struggling to stay afloat at the catching position until they can find a legit everyday guy who is ready.