This is hardly a shock — especially since we started reading the tea leaves last week — but Devin Mesoraco is probably not going to be on the Reds Opening Day roster. This comes straight from manager Bryan Price’s mouth, according to the Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan:
Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price has hinted at it in the last week, but as spring training winds to a close it’s become more of a reality. Starting catcher Devin Mesoraco, coming off shoulder and hip surgeries last season, is “unlikely” to be ready for Opening Day, Price said.
Mesoraco has suffered no setbacks in his recovery. There just hasn’t been enough time to for the 28-year-old to build up his stamina for a regular workload in the majors.
The Reds were likely to have Mesoraco split time with Tucker Barnhart early on anyway, but want Mesoraco to be able to handle a fuller load if necessary before he joins the team.
Go read the rest of Zach’s piece, as there are some good quotes from Price and Mesoraco.
Mesoraco will likely stay out in Goodyear for extended spring training, where he’ll continue to work out, play in games with the minor leaguers, and build up enough strength so that he can join the team very soon. Not much else to say that wasn’t covered in my piece last week:
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.
So what now? Well, Tucker Barnhart is the de facto starter, and that’s not a terrible thing in the short term. Barnhart did reasonably well last year, and I expect he’ll do reasonably well this year. I’m never going to complain when Barnhart is in the lineup, even if he won’t be mistaken for Johnny Bench. He’s a solid catcher who gets on base at a decent clip.
The Reds will have a decision to make about Barnhart’s backup while Mesoraco is absent. Looks like Stuart Turner has the inside track over Rob Brantly.
Sounds like Reds are leaning toward keeping Stuart Turner to start the year.
— Zach Buchanan (@ZachENQ) March 26, 2017
Again, Turner is a Rule 5 pick, so if he doesn’t stick with the Reds, they’ll have to offer him back to the Twins. (Or the teams could work out a trade; I’d explore that if I were GM Dick Williams.) Turner would be a good guy to keep around. With his defensive reputation, I think he could be a legitimate backup catcher in the big leagues.
If you’ve been reading Steve Mancuso’s daily reports from his excursion to Goodyear, you’ve noticed that Turner has been somewhat impressive:
I have mixed feelings about saying so many good things about Stuart Turner (Rule 5 catcher) because it’s going to be hard for the Reds to keep him. Turner threw a runner out at second base with a laser shot right on the bag. And today he contributed at the plate with a single to center and a bomb double into right centerfield. Turner’s double was against big league pitcher Sean Doolittle.
So…it is what it is. Mesoraco will be back soon enough (we hope). In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this silver lining from Wick Terrell:
And if you’re a believer in patterns, well, consider that the last time he wasn’t ready for Opening Day but was back with the team a bit over a week into a season, it was 2014 – and we all know what he did to baseballs for the remainder of that year once he returned.