PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – You can ask and hope the Pirates will call up AA catcher Henry Davis. It’s not going to happen, at least not right now.
“Nothing has changed as it relates to Endy (Rodriguez) and Henry,” said Pirates General Manager Ben Cherington on the Pirates Radio Network and 93.7 The Fan. “We believe both of those guys have the potential to be primary catchers on a good major league team. For right now, while they are in the minor leagues, we believe it’s best for both of them, best for the Pirates and to some degree we have an obligation to give both of them every chance to do that.”
“If they can, it impacts both of them and the team to the highest degree. We are trying to maximize the chance that both of them can develop into primary major league catchers. We think they are both capable of doing that’s why they were split up to start the season.”
“Part of it is playing time, part of it is that role inside a team that you are the primary catcher. You walk in the clubhouse and that’s a different role than if you were in a time share.”
Davis hit his 10th home run Saturday night and is batting .353 with a .476 on base percentage and .667 slugging percentage in May. The right-handed hitting catcher has a .311 average for the season with 22 RBI and a .463 OBP. Rodriguez missed a week-and-a-half with a forearm injury and is hitting .238 at AAA with a .344 OBP, four home runs and 13 RBI.
“Both guys are making really good progress and we are encouraged,” Cherington said on 93.7 The Fan. “We are not at the halfway point yet. I’m sure at some point during the season we will assess where that stands and see if any adjustments are needed.”
Cherington said you’ll see players move off a position in their MLB career, like Carlos Santana (or Neil Walker), who started as catchers. He believes it’s too soon to move either away from catching because he loves the idea of eventually having a pair of primary catchers and the options and likely advantage it gives a manager.
The Bucs GM also said on 93.7 The Fan they are happy with the work currently of veteran Austin Hedges and Jason Delay. Noting it’s not all about batting average, it’s the way they are handling the staff.
Cherington said as they approach being a third of the way through the season, he has a decent sense of where the team is right now. He sees more effective pitching with better focus on throwing strikes. He believes they are capable of more in many areas and with players, but everything they set out to accomplish in Spring Training is still ahead of them.
“We believe we are legitimately improved and a competitive team,” Cherington said.
Vince next outing
Vince Velasquez ‘came out really well’ as he threw 4.2 innings at a AAA rehab start. The veteran righty gave up no runs on four hits with a walk and two strikeouts. It was his first game action since leaving a start in Tampa Bay with elbow discomfort.
Cherington said the work was very encouraging and he’s not sure yet if Velasquez will make another rehab appearance or come back into the Pirates rotation.