In a freak accident within the first few days of spring training, KC Royals catcher Manny Pina caught his spike while catching during batting practice and tore his meniscus in his right knee. He will be leaving this weekend for Kansas City to have surgery. Pina is expected to miss at least four weeks.
Pina’s injury leaves Brayan Pena as the backup catcher to start the 2012 season. There was supposed to be some competition between the veteran Pena and Pina.
Pina played in just four games in the big leagues in 2011 for the Royals. He went 3-for-14 and two of those hits were doubles. He scored two runs and also walked once. He hit a combined .239 at two minor league levels in 2011 (in Double-A and Triple-A). Pina gets on base, as he walked 36 times compared to 40 strikeouts in 218 at-bats (.365 OBP).
Pena spent all of 2011 in the big leagues, splitting time with veteran Matt Treanor and then rookie Salvador Perez. He blocked the plate well and saved some runs, especially early in the season when the Royals were playing well.
Overall, Pena hit .248 with 11 doubles and 24 RBIs in 222 at-bats. When he received regular at-bats, he hit. In June and July (96 at-bats), he hit .302.
Once Perez made his debut, Pena didn’t get into many games (just 64 at-bats in the final two months). So the Royals already transitioned him into back up duty.
It would have been nice to see some competition in terms of who is going to back up Perez. Now that the Royals are down to five catchers in camp, manager Ned Yost hinted that they will have to bring some catchers up from minor league camp.
Maybe one of those non-roster invitees (Max Ramirez, Cody Clark, and Julio Rodriguez) can sneak in and win the backup role?
Maybe…but I’m sure Yost wants to go with a veteran guy who knows the pitching staff. And that would be Pena.
*Well, whoever wins the backup job, he will be the backup. The starter is definitely Salvador Perez and he has impressed his teammates so far this spring.