So far Yankees GM Brian Cashman has stated that Russell Martin is his starting catcher. Meanwhile, veteran catcher Jorge Posada will have to adjust to his new position as the team’s designated hitter. Cashman also mentioned that the backup catcher position is Ã¢â‚¬Å“up for grabs.Ã¢â‚¬Â
If Cashman believes that Martin is his starting catcher, then which guys are the potential choices for backup catcher?
Francisco Cervelli has the necessary major league level experience which places him in the position of incumbent backup catcher. During the off-season, Cervelli worked out with Robinson Cano to work on his batting technique.
Another backup possibility is Double-A catcher Austin Romine. Romine had a less-than-spectacular 2010 season. While he is a better defensive player than Montero, Romine still needs time to improve his level of play. This is particularly the case with regard to his offensive play as well. Last season, Romine hit .268, but only hit 10 HRs.His minor league competition, Triple-A catcher Jesus Montero, is the player that many sports writers and fans salivating because of his excellent potential, especially since heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s considered #4 on the list of the Top 100 baseball prospects. As demonstrated by his 2010 season stats (.351/.396/.684), MonteroÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a better hitter than Cervelli and Romine. While his defense also improved in the second half of last season, the Yankees still feel that MonteroÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s defense isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t entirely up to par just yet.
That said, unlike last season, MonteroÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in better shape (he lost weight) and ready to compete for a spot in the starting roster. Taking this season even more seriously, Montero showed up a week early for spring training. “I want to be behind the plate,” he said to reporters the other day. “I want to show everybody that I can catch with the Yankees.”Like Montero, Martin also showed up a week early for spring training. Unfortunately, for Martin, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still recovering from hip and knee surgery, but says he will be healed up before Opening Day (March 31):
“My goal from now is until the season is to strengthen that right side of my leg,” Martin said.
Martin also told reports at the Yankees minor league complex that “I think I’ll be ready for the season, for sure.” He continued “I can’t predict the future, but I feel pretty good right now.” While Martin has struggled in his play for the past few years, he decided to adopt MMA as part of his training regimen. Martin’s hoping that this new training program will help him get back into shape while he recuperates from his surgery. He has lost 15 lbs, which brought him down from 230 to 215.
While Martin and Montero vie for the starting catcher position this season, all the sports media and fans can sit back and watch this saga unfold.