Cincinnati Reds’ catcher Devin Mesoraco is feeling good, but won’t be ready for the season opener

Mandatory Credit: Kareem Elgazzar/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK
Mandatory Credit: Kareem Elgazzar/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK /

In a situation that feels entirely too close to Homer Bailey’s, Cincinnati Reds’ catcher Devin Mesoraco will not be ready to start the season as promised repeatedly this off-season.

The reason that the Cincinnati Reds announced that they were not going to open the season with three catchers had nothing to do with Stuart Turner.  It had everything to do with Devin Mesoraco not being ready to start the season.  With Turner and Tucker Barnhart as the catchers, the Reds will only carry two catchers to start the season.

The bigger issue is how long it will take Mesoraco to get ready to catch a full game.  Turner has never played beyond Double-A and Barnhart wears down about 80 games played into his season.  That means that Mesoraco has to be ready early enough to help the other catchers stay fresh.

At the rate he is going now, Mesoraco will miss about the first month of the season.  That isn’t too bad, as long as the Reds wait until he is ready to catch at least 40% of the games before he comes back to the active roster.  That way they can use him as a catcher and maybe a pinch hitter off of the bench.  A healthy Mesoraco could have been the heart of the Reds’ batting order for years.

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The Cincinnati Reds will start the 2017 season with Tucker Barnhart and Stuart Turner behind the plate.

Barnhart has become quite a steal for the Reds.  He was a 10th round pick out of Brownsburg High School in Indiana.  For the last two seasons he has been the starter for a good portion of the season for the Reds.

Meanwhile, Turner has yet to play in the majors.  He was taken out of the University of Mississippi by the Minnesota Twins in 2013.  This spring Turner has hit .406 over 32 games including a home run.

These two appear to have what it takes to hold down the position in the short term.  Barnhart’s greatest weakness has always been his game calling.  It is not apparent how having an even more inexperienced back-up will help the Reds achieve a better result.

If anything should happen, however, Rob Brantly will be just a call away.  He is a defensive minded, left-handed hitting catcher.  Brantly has a reputation for calling a good game.

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Whatever happens, the focus on the catching position this season will be the return of Mesoraco.  However, if he doesn’t make it back to full force by the end of the season, the position will be a question mark again next year.  Maybe the Reds will finally understand the value of having a solid catching situation.