Kawasaki assuming role of emergency catcher

Kawasaki assuming role of emergency catcher

Kawasaki assuming role of emergency catcher
ST. PETERSBURG -- With veteran Miguel Olivo on the 15-day disabled list with a strained groin, the Mariners are going with rookie Jesus Montero and veteran John Jaso as their only two catchers. And since Montero normally serves as the designated hitter when not behind the plate, manager Eric Wedge knows he could need a third catcher some time.

Enter utility infielder Munenori Kawasaki, who got some work in the bullpen Wednesday with catching instructor Jeff Datz throwing him pitches.

"We just need an emergency third catcher," Wedge said. "He's the first guy that came to mind. I guess that covers about everything, when I think about him. He has good hands, he's a good athlete, he's more than willing and able to do everything."

Kawasaki was an eight-time All-Star shortstop in Japan and has brought an energetic approach to Seattle, where he's worked at third base, shortstop and second base.

"We just took him down there and gave him a few reps, just in case," Wedge said. "Datzy said he did fine. They didn't do much, but of course Muney said he's ready to go. Datzy said, 'I'm throwing about 40, they throw 90. It's a little different story.'

"But if I'm going to DH Montero or pinch-run for Montero, which obviously I am, then we're down to one. If something happens, not good. So we're just going to continue to work through that and see if we have any other volunteers. Not that he volunteered. I volunteered him."

Wedge said shortstop Brendan Ryan actually did volunteer, which isn't surprising from the outgoing veteran.

"He'd go back there right now and do it, so he's in my brain a little bit," Wedge said. "He said he's looking forward to calling a game. Now that's scary."