Normally after a win, the music is blaring, players are laughing, there’s lots going on. But not tonight. After the Mariners 2-0 win over the Twins, the club announced that back-up catcher John Buck had been designated for assignment.
It was not a popular move amongst the players, many privately grumbling about the thinking behind it. Buck, a veteran, was well liked and respected amongst his teammates.
Still, there had been growing concern about Buck’s defense particularly receiving and blocking pitches from some of the Mariners’ power arms. This wasn’t based on just the one game on Sunday where Buck had his issues when Taijuan Walker’s command went erratic.This move had been discussed for more than a week.
The problem is when you are a back-up catcher and there is a lack of trust in your defense, then it’s pretty much done. Good hitting could offset some of those issues. But Buck wasn’t hitting. He was hitting .226 in 27 games. Zunino is catching a mountain of innings. And if they are looking to rest him more, making a move for a better defensive catcher was logical.
“Listen, these things are never fun,” McClendon said. ” John Buck is a fine baseball player and I think he has been great for this club and a wonderful individual. We’ve got a catcher in Triple A who is turning the corner and doing a pretty darn good job. We will announce that tomorrow, but we just felt it was time so we think this move makes us a better club.”
That likely corresponding roster move would be calling up Jesus Sucre from Class AAA Tacoma. Sucre is an upgrade over Buck defensively. He’s a good receiver, blocks well and has a cannon for a throwing arm. He’s thrown out 20 of the 40 runners, who have tried to steal on him this year. Sucre is not a great hitter. He’s always been a defense first guy.
Here’s Sucre’s numbers
As for the upset players, it will likely pass. Baseball players are ingrained into moving on every 24 hours. It’s learned thinking. And while it’s not as easy to get over a lost teammate like a bad game, it will happen. They know it’s how the game works. For some of the younger players, it’s a little more difficult to understand. But this is a business. Baseball players love to say, “I can’t worry about things that are out of my control” and “I can only focus on the things I can control.” Well, this is one of those times. Players may be upset that Buck is gone. But as professionals it’s their job to not let it sidetrack them or their season.