Moore’s injury will test catching depth

Adam Moore is helped off the field by trainer Rob Nodine and manager Eric Wedge as Miguel Olivo (right) comes in to replace him in Wednesday's eighth inning in Arlington. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

The Mariners lost not only their fourth straight game on Wednesday in Texas, but also backup catcher Adam Moore when he hurt his right knee while scrambling after a Brandon League pitch in the dirt that scooted away from him in the eighth inning of the 7-3 defeat.

Moore will undergo an MRI test Thursday, but indications are the injury could be fairly serious. Trainers helped Moore off the field without letting him put any weight on the leg and he was clearly upset in the clubhouse after getting ice treatment.

Well after the game ended, Moore came to his locker and struggled getting his sock off. He said his foot slipped as he went to plant it, but at that point teammate Chone Figgins intervened and asked reporters to give Moore some space and wait until later to talk to him.

Figgins said Moore was emotional about the situation and needed some time, which is understandable. And also an indication the injury likely is something relatively serious.

Manager Eric Wedge said the knee “locked up” on Moore on the play, but he didn’t know exactly how the injury occurred yet.

So where does Moore’s injury leave the club? Miguel Olivo is the starting catcher and was already destined to get the bulk of the playing time, but he’s only two weeks back from a strained groin muscle and Wedge has intended to be somewhat cautious with him early.

Veteran Josh Bard and Chris Gimenez — the super utility man who can catch, play the outfield and corner infield spots — are the two Tacoma catchers. Both are capable fill-ins.

Neither player is on the 40-man roster, so the club will either need to release someone currently on the 40-man or place Moore on the 60-day disabled list if his injury is that serious, which would eliminate the need to clear a roster spot.

I wouldn’t expect any move to be announced until Friday, given the team is off Thursday and doesn’t need to make a move until sometime before Friday night’s  home opener.

Bard opened last year with the Rainiers and then joined the Mariners on May 16 when Moore hurt his other knee. Gimenez played for Wedge in Cleveland in ’09 and the skipper likes his versatility, though at this point the Mariners are in need primarily of a catcher, so that point may be somewhat moot. Both those guys had pretty solid springs and should be capable fill-ins.

The question might be more long-term depth, however, as there isn’t a lot of experience behind them in the system. The two catchers assigned to Double-A Jackson to start the season are Jose Yepez and Brandon  Bantz.

Yepez, 29, hit .322 in 34 games for Double-A West Tenn last year and caught one game in Tacoma. He’s a 6-foot, 205-pounder out of Venezuela.

Bantz is a 24-year-old Texan who hit .241 at Double A a year ago as a former 30th round draft choice.

In case you’re wondering, Steven Baron, the promising 20-year-old who played extremely well in camp, will open the season at Class A Clinton. He may be the catcher of the future, but he still has a lot of learning to go and the club won’t rush him.

1 Comment

Thanks, Mr. Johns. Very insightful, and much appreciated low-profile reporting. Always hate to see a knee injury, especially in a catcher.

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