As reported first by Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Derek Norris will rejoin the Oakland Athletics on Thursday.
Derek Norris went 2 for 5 with a HR at Sacramento today; he’ll be put back on Oakland’s roster on Thursday when eligible to come off the DL.
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) September 3, 2013
In a three game rehab stint for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats, he went 6-for-14 (.429) with a pair of home runs. The question is, just what kind of role will the second-year catcher be retuning to?
Norris broke his toe in a collision at the plate back on August 20, leaving the Athletics with just one healthy catcher on the 40-man roster. The lack of depth lead the team to bring in reinforcements in the form of Kurt Suzuki, who the team had flipped to the Washington Nationals just last season to allow Norris to take over as the starter.
With Norris out injured, though, Suzuki and Stephen Vogt have formed a highly productive platoon. The veteran Suzuki is widely respected in the clubhouse, and he exerts a calming influence on seemingly all the pitchers on the staff. Vogt is probably the third best catcher defensively and in terms of calling games. However, he’s also come up with some huge hits, and since he’s the only left-hander hitter of the three he figures to see quite a bit of playing time down the stretch.
Manager Bob Melvin is likely to devise a plan that will get all three catchers plenty of at-bats. Vogt should be in the lineup most times when the Athletics are facing a right-hander, but Suzuki could also get some of those starts. Suzuki actually hits righties better than lefties, so when he takes the field is likely to be dictated by who’s on the mound for Oakland.
Suzuki will get the most challenging defensive assignments like handling Grant Balfour and inexperienced starters like Dan Straily. Norris, who is hitting .345 (19-for-45) since July 1, should get just about every start against a left-hander. Norris is hitting .309 (38-for-123) with all eight of his home runs off lefties in 2013. Norris could even grab some starts as DH after looking impressive out of the second spot in the lineup before getting shelved.