Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge announced that Jesus Montero would be the team’s starting catcher going into spring training. The team did not re-sign last year’s starter, veteran backstop Miguel Olivo, who went on to sign a free agent contract with the Miami Marlins.
Over the winter, the Mariners signed veteran Kelly Shoppach, who spent the 2012 season as the backup catcher for the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets. Shoppach had only been the primary catcher for his team once, when he was with the Cleveland Indians in 2008-09, and was presumed to be the backup catcher for the Mariners.
Things have gone slightly different than planned. Montero has seen the majority of the time behind the dish with 12 games caught, but Shoppach isn’t too far behind, with nine games caught.
Wedge talked about this change from the original plans, saying, “What I wanted to do was play him a little more early on and see where it goes from there.” The former MLB catcher told Mariners.com. “We’re going to mix and match with that for a while and hopefully keep [Shoppach] going, but also help to get Jesus going,” Wedge said.
Shoppach has started the season very well, posting a .333/.429/.542 triple slash in his first 28 plate appearances as a Mariner.
Montero is off to a slow start early on, hitting .209/.227/.233 in 44 plate appearances. Montero needs to improve on his plate discipline, as he has only recorded one walk while striking out seven times.
Montero has improved on his defensive ability as catcher, but still looks very inexperienced behind the plate. It would be a wise move if Wedge used Shoppach more because he has more experience as a catcher, and he seems to handle the pitching staff better than Montero.