The Reds have made the much anticipated official announcement that Devin Mesoraco has been activated from the 10-day disabled list. He’ll be on the Reds roster for tomorrow night’s game in St. Louis.
In case you’ve forgotten your Mesoraco history, here’s a brief timeline:
- 1988 Devin was born (he’s 28 now)
- 2007 Reds selected Devin in 1st round of draft (15th pick overall) out of Punxsutawney high school. He turns down a scholarship to the University of Virginia (with Chad’s blessing) to play for the Reds.
- 2010 Devin finally makes it to the big time, granted an interview with Redleg Nation Radio and Bill Lack.
- Sept. 2011 Devin debuts for the Reds at age 21, doubles vs. Cardinals in his first at bat. He starts his first game for the Reds on Sept. 5.
- 2014 Takes over as Reds starting catcher, plays 114 games, hits 25 homers and bats .273/.359/.534. That’s a walk rate of 9.3% and isolated power of .260. Much potential shown. Only 19 major league players hit more than 25 homers in 2014. Devin’s wRC+ was 147.
- Jan. 2015 Signs a 4-year contract for $28 million through 2018, covering his three arbitration years and his first free agency year. At the time, it looked like a crazy good deal for the Reds. Debate: Should Devin play 9 out of 10 games or just 8 out of 10?
- 2015 Plays in 23 games, 51 plate appearances
- May 2015 Placed on DL for left hip impingement, after Reds devise a short-term plan to use Mesoraco selectively as a pinch hitter and designated hitter, the catcher has corrective surgery in New York at end of June
- 2016 Reports to spring training healthy, plays in 13 games, 55 plate appearances
- May 2016 Placed on DL for torn labrum, left shoulder. Had corrective surgery.
- July 2016 Has preventive surgery on right hip impingement
- 2017 Devin misses Opening Day, activated by Reds on April 27
The Reds have been conservative in Mesoraco’s latest rehab and recovery. They slow-played him through spring training, despite Devin never reporting a setback. His progress in the minor leagues since the start of the season has been regulated but steadily forward. After speculation the Reds might try to find playing time for Mesoraco in the outfield, that experiment seems to be on hold for now.
The second hip surgery was a smart precaution to take while Mesoraco was already on the DL. By all accounts, Mesoraco is now healthy and should have the stamina to play a lot. Although, expect the Reds to continue their cautious approach.
But shoulder surgeries like Mesoraco’s can mess up a hitter’s timing for a good while. Hitting is the recovery marker, not the health of his hips, that most bears watching. Reds fans have seen with Scott Rolen and Ryan Ludwick the effect shoulder surgery can have on power. Research on the long-term effect of lead shoulder injuries shows a wide range of outcomes.
Whenever shoulder injury/surgery comes up, I think of this quote from one of the leading specialists on the topic of shoulder repair:
“Trying to re-establish ones mechanics after surgery is a complex process,” says Dr. ElAttrache, speaking generally. “It’s extremely delicate. It involves rebuilding strength, and all that goes into the swing from the front shoulder. It takes perfect mechanics to regain bat speed and the swing path. Sometimes it takes a year, sometimes more.”
If spring training was any indication, expect plenty of bad swings from Mesoraco. He’ll run into a pitch now and again. It’s hard to grasp this, but after the All Star break is the right timeframe to start to evaluate Devin Mesoraco’s hitting. In that respect, he fits right in with much of the rest of the roster.
As for the Reds roster, the club plans to hold on to Stuart Turner, for a while at least. Carrying three catchers doesn’t sound like something Bryan Price would want to do for long. But Turner being available does allow Mesoraco and Tucker Barnhart to pinch hit. Turner won’t see much playing time, so his defensive attributes and offensive liabilities hardly matter. While Turner would add organizational depth at catcher, it’s not like finding a back up catcher is that difficult. It’s hard to imagine the Reds sacrificing much to keep Turner on the major league roster this year. He’ll be around until the Reds are satisfied that Mesoraco is ready to go.