Minnesota Twins Spring Training Battles: Position Players
C: This one is easy. There’s two men for two spots. Starting catcher and backup catcher. After trading Aaron Hicks to the Yankees for John Ryan Murphy (he doesn’t like J.R., so don’t try), Murphy has a chance to wrest the starter’s role from incumbent Kurt Suzuki. While Molitor states for the cameras that Suzuki is his man, a strong spring by Murphy, coupled with a poor one by Suzuki, could accelerate the manager’s plan to make the switch. But the catching position is not all about hitting. Coaches will want to see how Murphy handles the staff in game situations, plus how he does in throwing out runners. His arm strength wouldn’t rate among the league’s best, but he’s very quick to second nonetheless.
Last year, Kurt Suzuki finished last in the majors in throwing out potential base-stealers (allowing 85%!), and truth be told, he’s never finished better than 80% with the Twins. He does, however, take the call behind the plate whenever the manager has asked, and that’s been a lot since he’s signed with the Twins as his backups have been the among the worst in baseball to squat behind home plate. The Twins value Suzuki for the way he handles the pitching staff, so Murphy will need to have an amazing spring to supplant the 2014 All-Star.
Next: Bench Battles