Kawasaki prepares as emergency catcher

Kawasaki prepares as emergency catcher

Kawasaki prepares as emergency catcher
SEATTLE -- Utility infielder Munenori Kawasaki, all 165 pounds of him, has continued preparing as the Mariners' emergency third catcher during the absence of injured starter Miguel Olivo.

Kawasaki has never caught in a game but has done some work in the bullpen since Olivo strained his groin on April 30. With backup John Jaso hampered by a sore shoulder after taking a hard foul ball while behind the plate on Monday, Kawasaki could be moving up the depth chart.

Wedge said Jaso was available Wednesday if needed, but Kawasaki is becoming more of an option if something happens to rookie Jesus Montero. When Montero and Jaso were both in the lineup on Monday, Wedge said he told bench coach Robby Thompson to let Kawasaki know he might be needed in the bullpen between innings one frame when Montero was the fourth batter due up.

"I was thinking, if Montero makes the last out, we could really hustle and get him together and send him down there, realizing it would be a tough push," Wedge said. "Robby said, 'Look down there.' And Mune is in full gear, head to toe, with the mask. I said, 'Don't worry about Jesus. Send Mune down there.'

"So that's what we did. I mean, head to toe, ready to rock and roll. I couldn't disappoint the guy. I had to let him go. He did a full-out sprint to the bullpen and there you go."

Wedge said it's just another sign of what Kawasaki has brought to the club as a free agent out of Japan, where he was an eight-time All-Star shortstop.

"He's off the charts with his attitude and approach and energy day to day," said Wedge. "He's so consistent. Obviously he hasn't been playing much, but he's ready to go every day. He's a treat to have."

Olivo is on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma and is expected to rejoin the Mariners by this weekend.