Catch As Catch Can
Today’s Los Angeles Times reports that Mike Napoli felt an “impingement” in his throwing shoulder after surgery and will be held back in spring training from “rigorous” throwing exercises for several weeks.
If Napoli can’t catch, this pretty much hands the starting catcher job full-time to Jeff Mathis. The article says the shoulder doesn’t hurt Napoli when he bats, so he’ll make the roster as a DH and backup first baseman.
The question becomes who gets the backup catcher job, Ryan Budde or Bobby Wilson. Both have a little big-league experience and are superb defensive catchers.
But we also have to wonder where Napoli’s bat fits into the lineup, with the recent acquisition of Bobby Abreu. It was assumed that Abreu would handle much of the DH assignment, taking the field occasionally to spell Juan Rivera in LF and Vlad Guerrero in RF. Keeping all three bats in the lineup sends Napoli to the bench.
But Opening Night is nearly two months away, and these things tend to resolve themselves. Heaven forbid someone else get injured, or Napoli have to undergo corrective surgery. Either way, it looks like Wilson or Budde have a good chance of making the parent club roster come Opening Night.
UPDATE February 16, 2009 — Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times updates his original story, reporting that Napoli may have to vie for the DH role if he can’t catch.