Spring training is just over a couple of weeks from being finished so let’s check in on one of the position battles currently going on, the Opening Day catcher job.
The winner will likely hold the position until June or July when Wilson Ramos will make his return to catching from the disabled list.
He came to the Rays just before the start of spring training in yet another Rays - Mariners deal. Since his arrival he has become the heavy favorite to land the Opening Day job as the team’s pitchers and coaching staff have praised his abilities.
The pitchers have enjoyed throwing to him. We get to see how the bat plays a little bit. I really like the way he's handling the pitchers, the way he's receiving. We knew he has a cannon for an arm - Kevin Cash
Last season, Sucre spent most of the year on the disabled list or with the Mariners Triple-A team, where he slashed .273/.301/.333 over 29 games.
Sucre has already formed a relationship with Rays ace Chris Archer, and famously called the 2015 Hisashi Iwakuma no-hitter.
Casali took a step back in 2016 after his home run tear during the Summer of 2015. . Casali will always be an offensive first catcher, but his glove needs to come around in order for him to be starting everyday catcher in the majors.
Last season with the Rays, Casali slashed .186/.273/.336 with eight home runs over 84 games, and found himself spending time in Triple-A.
Luke Maile is just kind of there this spring, not making waves but staying in the competition. He is a plus defender, but leaves a lot to be desired on the offensive side of things, even though he is having a better offensive spring showing than the rest of the competition.
Last season with the Rays he slashed .227/.252/.361 with three home runs over 42 games in his debut season.
A non-roster invitee, the Rays signed McKenry (pictured at the top of the article) to a minor league deal during the off-season.
The power hitting backstop played within the systems of four organizations during the 2016 season, spending a brief time in the majors with the Cardinals. He may not make the Rays roster as a catcher, but they’re trying him at first base and even the outfield in hopes of getting him at-bats.
and just maybe...
When the Washington Nationals signed Matt Wieters, Derek Norris was out of a job. They spent the past two weeks trying to trade the former all-star but to no avail and ultimately released him on Wednesday.
Norris struggled during the 2016 season, but still managed to homer 14 times over 125 games, however he only produced 55 wRC+ during an injury ridden season.
Once again, Derek Norris didn't get old overnight or forget how to hit, it's pretty obvious he got hurt. Question is if he's still that way? pic.twitter.com/zaoYuIGUHq— Sandy Kazmir (@SandyKazmir) March 15, 2017
The Rays go with a tandem of Jesus Sucre and Curt Casali to begin the season, while Derek Norris ends up with the Colorado Rockies. Luke Maile and Michael McKenry begin the season with the Durham Bulls in Triple-A.