By Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com
I will be spending the evening working on a D-backs column, actually… leaving associate reporter Laura Myers to bring you all your Pirates news. But before I head over to the Arizona clubhouse, I would be remiss not to address the Pirates’ catching situation.
You know, it wasn’t all that long ago that the Pirates seemed to have so much catching depth that trading Ryan Doumit was seen as a realistic possibility. And yet, as the club takes a shot at moving above .500 on Thursday, it’ll do so with Dusty Brown and Wyatt Toregas as the team’s two backstops. The two began the season as No. 4 and 5 on the organizational depth chart.
So what has happened to bring the situation to this? And what is the long-term outlook behind the plate for Pittsburgh?
Triple-A starting catcher Jason Jaramillo went down first when he was hit in the elbow by a pitch. That injury kept him from being the one called up when Doumit sustained an ankle injury nearly two weeks ago in Chicago. And on Wednesday, Chris Snyder left the game with soreness in his back. It’s the same injury that forced Snyder to miss numerous games in Spring Training, and it has him back on the DL.
Bad news is that Jaramillo is not close to coming off the Triple-A DL, I’ve been told. So you can mark him off as an option to come to Pittsburgh soon. The Pirates expect to know a better timeframe for his absence over the next few days. Snyder will be out for at least 15 days, and Doumit is out until at least July.
So unless the Pirates go outside the organization to grab a catcher, it’s going to Brown and Toregas for a while. In addition to obviously losing a decent bat in the lineup by not having Doumit or Snyder, you have to wonder what the loss of those two is going to do to this pitching staff. Some of the credit for the starters’ drastic turnaround had to go to the two catchers. Now, the familiarity and comfortability are no longer there. Don’t underestimate the effect that could have.
For those who have asked, no, top catching prospect Tony Sanchez is not coming up. He isn’t even moving to Triple-A, as the Pirates opted to promote Kris Watts to Indianapolis to take Torregas’ spot. Sanchez still has a decent amount of development needed in the Minors (where is his power this season?), and the Pirates have no intention of hampering that process by rushing him to the Majors.
As I mentioned on my twitter account last night, I do know the Orioles have placed Jake Fox on waivers, and he could be a potential target for the Pirates. He hasn’t had all that good of a season (.188 batting average in 19 games), but he does have Major League experience. Torregas’ big-league experience is limited to 19 games with the Indians in 2009. Brown has also appeared in just 19, five of which have come this season.
The Pirates are expected to announce more information on Snyder’s injury later this afternoon. You will be able to find that at pirates.com.
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