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.
Veteran catcher John Buck has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Braves that includes an invitation to spring training.
Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes that the 34-year-old Buck is slated to begin the season at Triple-A, as the Braves go with Christian Bethancourt and 38-year-old A.J. Pierzynski behind the plate.
Buck hasn’t cracked a .700 OPS since 2010, when he made the All-Star game with the Blue Jays. Since then he’s hit just .216 with a .656 OPS in 388 games for five different teams, including the Mariners and Angels last season.
Mets reliever Vic Black has been shut down with a shoulder injury just one week after returning from a disabled list stint for a herniated disk in his back.
Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that Black has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff, which seems likely to sideline him for the remainder of the season. He won’t throw again for at least five days.
Black, who was acquired from the Pirates along with Dilson Herrera last August in exchange for Marlon Byrd and John Buck, has pitched well for the Mets with a 2.83 ERA and 44/23 K/BB ratio in 48 innings since the deal.
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina sprained his thumb last night on an awkward slide into third base. He underwent an to determine the severity of the injury. The verdict: severe. Molina has a torn ligament in his right thumb. He will have surgery and will miss 8-12 weeks, the team announced a few minutes ago.
Molina was hitting .287/.341/.409 with 16 doubles and seven home runs when he went down. That’s off the pace of where he’s been the past couple of years, but it’s still excellent production, and that’s before you factor in the fact that he is, bar none, the best catcher in all of baseball. This is a tremendous blow for the Cardinals, who have had the luxury of Molina’s outstanding work, almost uninterrupted, for the past decade.
In his place: Tony Cruz and Audry Perez. At least for now. If the Cardinals are looking to get a veteran presence to take Molina’s place or back either Cruz or Perez up, both John Buck and A.J. Pierzynski were DFA’d this week.
Not that either of them are a substitute for Yadi. Heck, you could stack all four of those guys on top of one another and they wouldn’t measure up to Yadi.
The Mariners won last night but Seattle Times reporter Ryan Divish says the atmosphere in the clubhouse afterward was “similar to a 12-inning loss.” Why? Because, as Divish reports, the M’s designated popular veteran catcher John Buck for assignment.
Buck was hitting .226/.293/.286 with one homer in 84 at-bats this season. This is the sort of production they probably should’ve expected from Buck when they signed him to a one-year, $1 million deal back in January and they’re not likely to receive better production behind the plate from any internal replacements (they are likely to call up Jesus Sucre from Tacoma). But Divish notes that there were “concerns about Buck’s defense and receiving and blocking from the Mariners crew of hard throwers” among M’s brass, so he’s out.
This may bug M’s players and maybe some M’s fans. But, assuming those fears about Buck’s defense are well-founded, it’s the kind of around-the-edges improvements that teams in the playoff hunt make to improve their chances. Maybe Buck is still on the team is they’re a dozen games back of the wild card leaders. But that’s not where the Mariners are these days, and when you’re contending sometimes you gotta make tough choices.