Devin Mesoraco will not begin the regular season with the Cincinnati Reds. The catcher still hasn’t caught a full 9-inning game this spring. While he feels fine, he admits that he is still rusty after missing nearly two full seasons with hip and shoulder injuries. While in Arizona I saw him two different times on the backfields. He was going between games and getting at-bats in every inning just trying to get as many at-bats as possible.
Dick Williams, General Manager of the Reds was on the Fox Sports Ohio broadcast on Wednesday afternoon. He spoke about Devin Mesoraco and the rehab plan for him. I am paraphrasing here, but Williams noted that they would probably keep him in Arizona for a short period of time. After that they would send him to one of the warm weather affiliates like Pensacola (he mentioned Pensacola specifically).
It sounds like the Reds are hoping to have Devin Mesoraco back before the end of April. That, obviously, will depend on just how well his rehab goes. How does his body respond to catching 9-innings on back-to-back days? How quickly can his bat come around? Those things will be big factors in how long he will need to rehab for and how quickly he can return to the Major Leagues.
That also brings up the question of what exactly the team will do with Stuart Turner at that point. Right now, Turner is seemingly on the Opening Day roster as the backup to Tucker Barnhart. The team can’t option Turner to the minor leagues as a Rule 5 pick. Bryan Price has said that he doesn’t plan to carry three catchers. Dick Williams seemed to be unwilling to making that same statement on the broadcast.
During spring training, Stuart Turner was one of the better hitters. He posted a .382/.488/.647 line with as many walks, six, as strikeouts. Catchers tend to develop at the plate later than other position players. It’s certainly possible that he has taken a step forward at age 25. It’s also possible that he simply played very well in the spring and will find himself looking more like the player he was in the minors. What’s working against him at this point is that the team already has a short bench, choosing to go with a large pitching staff. Perhaps that changes when Mesoraco returns and the team is a bit further into the season and the starters are over the 100 pitch mark in terms of their pitch counts which could save the bullpen a bit here and there versus the early part of April when guys aren’t quite as stretched out.