Tag: Christian Bethancourt


The Braves option Christian Bethancourt back to Triple-A


Christian Bethancourt was supposed to be the future behind the plate for the Atlanta Braves. But at present he kinda stinks. As such, the Braves just optioned him to Triple-A.

The at-one-time highly thought-of catcher hasn’t hit at all, posting a line of .208/.231/.297. Which would even be difficult to carry if he was a modern day Johnny Bench, defensively speaking. Which he has decidedly not been. Yesterday he allowed a run to score on a passed ball. His fifth passed ball in 27 games this year. He had six in 31 games last year. Former Braves catcher Evan Gattis had five passed balls in 93 games last season, and he’s considered to be a disaster defensively. A.J. Pierzynski, meanwhile, has two in 36 games.

Add in the fact that there is no suggestion that Bethancourt is good at handling pitchers or framing — he often looks crossed-up — and all you’re left with at the moment is a guy with a great arm behind the dish — he does throw out baserunners at a better-than-average pace — and a lot of unfulfilled promise. He needs some seasoning and he needs it on a stage smaller than the big leagues.

Christian Bethancourt’s first major league homer helps Braves walk off against the Pirates

Christian Bethancourt
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Braves catcher Christian Bethancourt took 208 plate appearances before hitting his first home run in the major leagues, and it was a big one. Leading off the bottom of the ninth inning against Pirates reliever Vance Worley with the game tied at 4-4, Bethancourt drove a first pitch breaking ball to the opposite field, just sneaking over the fence in the right field corner for a walk-off solo home run.

Starter Julio Teheran pitched well, but faltered late which allowed the Pirates to score twice to tie the game at 4-4 in the eighth inning. Closer Jason Grilli got the win after pitching a scoreless top half of the ninth inning. The win halts a three-game losing streak for the Braves.

Along with the one home run, Bethancourt has knocked in nine runs while batting .205/.231/.307.

Braves sign catcher Wil Nieves

Wil Nieves

Looking to add some organizational catching depth, the Braves have signed Wil Nieves to a minor-league contract.

Nieves elected to become a free agent last week after being dropped from the 40-man roster by the Padres, who replaced the 37-year-old with prospect Austin Hedges.

Nieves has never been more than a backup-caliber catcher and even that might be a stretch at this point. He’s a career .241 hitter with a .597 OPS in 427 games spent with seven different teams.

Atlanta has A.J. Pierzynski and Christian Bethancourt splitting time behind the plate, so Nieves would probably need an injury to reach the majors again.

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

Mookie Betts

Red Sox 9, Nationals 4: The Mookie Betts show. A three-run homer, a home run-saving catch. Two stolen bases on one play because the Nationals, apparently, forgot that when you’re in a shift, no one is covering a third, leaving that bag wide open. The Nats defense overall was a total disaster, with mental lapses, balls plopping onto the turf between two fielders and all of that jazz. It’s been like that the entire first week of the season. Which shows you that, even when you’re everyone’s World Series favorite, you still have to play good baseball.

Mets 2, Phillies 0: The Phillies are going to make a lot of pitchers look good this year, even the bad ones. So when a good one like Jacob deGrom faces them, welp, this sort of thing is going to happen. A shutout into the seventh supported by an infield single and a sac fly.

Pirates 5, Tigers 4: The dream of 162-0 is over for the Tigers. Alas. They had their chances, but Jared Hughes bailed Gerrit Cole out of a a no-out, bases-loaded situation in the seventh and Mark Melancon bent but did not break in the ninth. Josh Harrison, Pedro Alvarez and Corey Hart all homered for Pittsburgh, which has won 3 of 4.

Royals 12, Twins 3: The Royals, however, still have a shot at 162-0, right? At this rate, why not? The bullpen has been amazing and unlike last year they’re not jus eking by in the one run games. Get this:

Rany later went back and checked and, yes, that extends back to the beginning of the American League as well.

Brewers 5, Cardinals 4: Carlos Gomez had two hits and an RBI for the Brewers in what Ron Roenicke called “an ugly win.” But this play from K-Rod was pretty:

Rockies 2, Giants 0: The Giants raised their banner and carried out their trophies and stuff, then got shut out. Rockies rookie starter Eddie Butler outdueled Giants rookie starter Chris Heston, tossing five and a third shutout innings. Heston only allowed one earned run, but the Rockies’ second run was his fault as he committed an error to allow a run to score. The earned run rules are dumb.

Yankees 6, Orioles 5: Stephen Drew had to pinch hit for Brett Gardner after Gardner needed to exit following an earlier hit-by-pitch. No worries, as all Drew did was hit a grand slam in the seventh to put the Yankees up by two. Chris Young and Mark Teixeira also homered. That’s two in a row for the Yankees. Winning streak.

Rays 2, Blue Jays 1: The Rays runs scored on consecutive bases-loaded walks by R.A. Dickey. It was three walks in a row for Dickey, actually, all after he had recorded two outs. Tampa Bay starter Jake Odorizzi allowed one run over eight innings to spoil the Jays home opener.

Braves 3, Marlins 2: Reading some news stories and random Twitter comments, the whole “the Braves are playing small ball, doing the little things” narrative is clearly starting to take hold. Someone call Whitey Herzog, then, and tell him that they’re defining small ball down. In the fourth it maybe sorta looked like small ball, as Christian Bethancourt made his way around the bases without the aid of a hit, but it also came via a Marlins throwing error and a wild pitch. And the inning ended with another Braves runner caught stealing. The other two runs came the next inning via a combo of single-double-single-single. Yes, the Braves have been really home run dependent, but stringing hits together is not the same thing as “small ball.” I know I probably should care — hey, my team won! — but I don’t want to encourage Fredi Gonzalez into thinking he’s some master button-pusher.

Angels 6, Rangers 3: The Rangers jumped out with three in the first, but Angels’ starter Matt Shoemaker bounced back and didn’t allow anything else while pitching into the seventh. LAA got a pair of two-run homers from Collin Cowgill and David Freese in the fifth inning and they never looked back.

Cubs 7, Reds 6: Jon Lester was roughed up pretty good — and revealed that, yeah, maybe he has the yips — giving up six runs on 10 hits over six innings, putting his ERA at 7.84. Jorge Soler helped bail him out, however, hitting two two-run homers. The Reds bullpen imploded here, as they were up 6-4 when starter Mike Leake left after seven innings. Jumbo Diaz gave up one of those Soler homers to tie it. In the tenth everything unraveled, as relief pitchers who were not Aroldis Chapman allowed the Cubs to win. Such a shame that God Almighty Himself handed down that Commandment about not using your closer in a tie game on the road because He in all of His wisdom and glory has declared the save statistic to be sacred.

Athletics 8, Astros 1: Hey, Evan Gattis finally got a hit. His line on the season is now .042/.080/.042, which is sort of satisfying looking, aesthetically speaking. That was it for Houston highlights, however. Billy Butler hit a three-run homer in the fifth, but the game was already decided by then. Scott Kazmir allowed one run over six.

Dodgers 6, Mariners 5: Alex Guerrero hit a bases-loaded single with two outs in the 10th inning for the walkoff win, in a game the Dodgers trailed 4-0 in the fourth inning. Nelson Cruz hit two homers in a winning effort in a losing cause. Dodgers starter Brandon McCarthy gave up four homers but also struck out ten dudes. That combo doesn’t happen often, according to the Elias Sports bureau. But I suppose both results are a function of guys on the other team hacking like hell.

Diamondbacks 8, Padres 4: Ender Inciarte hit two doubles, a triple and drove in four. If the sports headline in the Arizona Republic is not “Ender’s Game” today, I’m just giving up.

John Buck announces his retirement after 11 seasons

John Buck

Veteran catcher John Buck, who was trying to win a job with the Braves on a minor-league contract, announced his retirement after 11 seasons in the majors for seven different teams.

Buck was signed in late January, after the Braves had already signed A.J. Pierzynski to serve as the veteran backup behind Christian Bethancourt. He had a good spring at age 34, hitting .320 with a 1.052 OPS in 12 games, but clearly the Braves had already settled on Pierzynski taking the job.

Buck debuted with the Royals as a 23-year-old in 2004 and spent the first six years of his career in Kansas City. He moved on to the Blue Jays in 2010 and made his lone All-Star team, hitting .281 with 20 homers and an .802 OPS. And then he hit just .216 with 44 homers and a .656 OPS in 388 games from 2011 through the end of his career.