I’m not sure any of us should be surprised by this “news,” but here you go:

Devin Mesoraco called Opening Day “arbitrary” among a 162-game season, so if the veteran catcher isn’t ready by that day, he isn’t ready, he said on Monday.

Mesoraco played four innings and was 1 for 2 against the Royals on Monday and is working his way up to a full game. Still, the Reds leave Arizona next week and he is aware that he may not be ready to start the season on April 3.

“I’m a guy who hasn’t played in two years, essentially,” said Mesoraco, who had hip surgery in 2015 and hip and shoulder surgery last season. “For me to come out catching one full game and getting 15 at-bats in spring training, that’s probably not putting me or the team in the best position. If everybody thinks I’m perfectly ready and ready to go, I’ll be in there. If not, it’s fine.”

Go read C. Trent’s entire piece for much more, including quotes from manager Bryan Price.

I know many fans — judging from the reaction on Twitter, which I should never do — will be upset by this news, but I’m not sure what anyone expected. Mesoraco is coming back from a long, long absence, having engaged in very little baseball activity over the course of two years. You were expecting him to be able to perform at the big league level without some time to prepare himself against real pitchers?

Baseball is hard. Mesoraco has performed well as a hitter in the past, so there’s reason for hope that he’ll be able to perform well in the future. But even if he is completely healthy this spring, there was always going to be the issue of how long it would take Mesoraco to get his timing back and his swing in good enough shape to face the best pitchers in the world. No one should have expected that to be a quick process, after essentially two years on the disabled list.

Do I wish Mesoraco were going to be in the Opening Day lineup? Of course! But I’m okay with the Reds and Mesoraco taking their sweet time to ensure that he’s healthy and ready to compete at a high level once he gets the go-ahead.

To me, the good news is that we haven’t heard anything about any setbacks for Mesoraco, health-wise. Yes, they’re taking it slow, but Mesoraco seems to be in good shape, he’s participating in a full range of baseball activities, including catching and throwing. While the timeline might not be enough to get Mesoraco into the lineup in game one, I’m satisfied — perhaps a better word is hopeful — that he’s on track to return to the big leagues soon thereafter.

The big question facing the Reds, of course, is what to do with the catcher’s position while the club is waiting for Mesoraco’s full-time return. Obviously, Tucker Barnhart will be the primary starter, as he was last year. After him will be either Rob Brantly or Stuart Turner.

My vote goes to Turner, for what it’s worth. Here’s our profile on Turner, published just after the Reds selected him in the Rule 5 draft. Turner has an exceptional reputation as a defensive catcher, though his bat has always lagged behind (of course, he’s hitting .435/.552/.609 in 16 games this spring). He seems like the type of useful piece that I’d prefer the Reds try to keep in the organization, if possible.

I’m sure the Reds are leaning one way or the other, as they always knew there was a distinct possibility Mesoraco wouldn’t be ready at the opening bell. Then again, maybe Mesoraco will be prepared to catch 50-60 percent of Reds games sooner, rather than later. There I go being hopeful again.

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

Join the conversation! 16 Comments

  1. Devin’s right about OD importance (or lack of.) Devin is also a great guy who cannot be trusted whatsoever to be on the field on a consistent basis. Anything the Reds get from him over the last two years of his contract is a bonus.

  2. I saw this this morning.
    Mesoraco in Arizona for 2-3 weeks in the warm temps of AZ, might be much more useful to both Mesoraco and the Reds than 2-3 weeks in Cincinnati and the road on these upcoming chilly nights of April.
    Turner will get a chance in real ML games to show his stuff. Is he worth a prospect to trade for and negate the Rule V return rule? When Mesoraco is put back on the active roster, this is a question that will have to be addressed if they want to send Turner to AAA at any time.
    This is probably the best all around for everyone involved.

  3. I know we have had our fair share of injuries over the last number of years but the guys that have been injured are pretty good ball players when healthy. Mez, Bailey, Disco, Iglesias, Lorenzen. A fully healthy team even with the rebuild/youth movement I would expect to be a .500 team. Its sad that some of these main cogs to the team are perpetually injured. I hope all these guys can stay healthy and we can see what they can do the next couple of years. Here’s a question, looking back at how Walt focused on stockpiling arms and the current situation that the Reds find themselves in, do you think he was wise in doing that or do you think he should have focused on another area?

    • Pitchers get hurt at a higher rate. That’s why I’m mostly ok with stockpiling arms. What I do wish he would have done however is gone a little higher ceiling but higher risk and perhaps further away guys as far as position players. I mean Herrera has been hurt anyway. Peraza may be a decent player but probably never a star. Suarez should be solid but probably not a star. Duvall and Schebler don’t have particularly high ceilings. All of them however stand to be at least moderately productive MLB players. I kind of wish that a little more risk was taken there in the hopes that we could get a legit star on the position player side.

  4. Mes starts the year on the 10 day DL and rehabs in the minors until ready. Carry a 13th pitcher to begin the season. Another possibility is keep 3 catchers to begin the season easing Mes back. He’s a PH and late inning replacement until he builds his stamina. I think the second option might be better. Would like to keep Turner in the organization. He can be given back to the Twins at any point in the season. Therefore, keeping him as long as possible on the 25 man roster is key.

    • I’m not a backer of having 3 catchers on the Reds active MLB roster as a plan for getting Mesoraco up to game speed. He needs to be playing (nearly) every day to the safe limits of his capacity on each given appearance which might be much more activity on some days than others.

      The ironic truth is that the only way the Reds will ever find out the extent to which Meso can recover his endurance and performance to satisfactory MLB levels is to take a series of prudent calculated risks that continue to extend him. That’s the only way he is going to get back to game speed and endurance.

      • This. He needs to be in AAA where he can build his stamina up to catching a full 9 innings. Then on back to back days.

        • Mesoraco should be able to stretch out to catching 9 innings by the end of ST, but you are absolutely correct regarding catching back-to-back games. I don’t see any way he can be ready to catch back-to-back games by opening day and he still needs reps, a lot of reps, against live pitching in live competition to get his batting stroke and timing ready to begin mashing again.

      • I agree 100%

  5. I can’t say I am really shocked by this news. Maybe he stays back for extended spring training and gets some AB’s against live pitching. How the Reds manage the extra catcher and its impact on the 40 man roster is the most pressing question. Do they have space available on the 40 man?

  6. In early November, a month plus before the Rule 5 Draft., Dick Williams said of the catching situation “I think it’s important to prepare a contingency plan,” per Mark Sheldon of MLB.com.

    I’d like to know the factors and thinking that led the Reds to believe a Rule 5 was a sufficient catching contingency plan. Such knowledge would probably tell us or at least infer what the Reds current self assessment is.


  7. Mes to DL to start Season and continue rehap until ready to catch full games..

  8. Devin Mesoraco could miss Opening Day………..Shocking

  9. Honestly, I’m not sure how anyone reasonably could have expected anything different. 2 years is an awful long time to be away from the game. I’m sure there are layers of rust that need to be knocked off that a few weeks of occasional spring training play won’t take care of. I don’t understand frustration regarding this situation. I actually find much encouragement. I don’t expect him to be gone more than a couple weeks.

  10. Maybe Price was on to something when he stated they were only going to have 2 catchers for the opening day roster…For Mes, keep him back in Arizona, rehab stint in Louisville where he can catch some days and DH the others. I like the idea of 3 catchers if Turner is versatile enough to play other positions in a pinch or be a pinch hitter but his past doesn’t suggest that.

  11. C Trent is reporting Iglesias has a bone bruise on his MRI…But no structural damage…He will rest a few days then resume throwing. Price suggested it was a non-baseball injury. How do you not know you banged your elbow on the wall so hard it showed up on MRI???
    Plus opening day at risk now.

    C Trent also says Hamilton resting an Achilles but would play if regular season. This is spring training with a dramatically reduced work load and Hamilton is resting a strain already? What’s the over/under on Hamilton this year for games played? I think billy is a 120-130 game player and the Reds must get Winker up by mid April after his service time issue and use a 4 man rotation.Schebler can play some CF. If Billy plays 28 days a month…He will be on the DL by June 15.

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About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.


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