Pete Kozma went from being the Cardinals’ starting shortstop to an afterthought once the clock struck midnight and turned him back into light-hitting pumpkin, and now he might be learning to catch.
Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has told Kozma and fellow utility infielder candidate Greg Garcia “to strap on catching equipment, whether it be in batting practice, or even a game.”
For now Matheny is simply trying to find an emergency catcher option behind starter Yadier Molina and backup Tony Cruz. Daniel Descalso had been the emergency catcher, but now he’s with the Rockies.
Hummel notes that Kozma is also likely to see some time in the outfield this spring, as he basically tries to do anything possible to look more appealing to the Cardinals as a potential bench player.
Tony Cruz will remain in his role as the Cardinals’ backup catcher next season, avoiding arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract.
Cruz has been Yadier Molina’s primary understudy since 2012, hitting just .225 with three homers and a .580 OPS in 482 plate appearances during that time.
Obviously the Cardinals value his defense a lot and, if healthy, they want Molina playing almost every game anyway.
A.J. Pierzynski told the media after the Cardinals’ loss to the Giants in Game 5 of the NLCS that he intends to play baseball again in 2015, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. With Yadier Molina starting and Tony Cruz backing up, Pierzynski’s future doesn’t lie with the Cardinals.
More, via Goold:
“I want to play, obviously,” said Pierzynski, who came to the Cardinals after being released by Boston in July. He will be a free agent next month. “Physically I feel good. I still think I can contribute. I don’t know what will be out there, but I want to play.”
The catcher, who turns 38 at the end of December, put up a .251/.288/.337 slash line with five home runs and 37 RBI in 362 plate appearances during the regular season with the Red Sox and Cardinals. It was easily the worst season of his 17-year career. However, he was productive at the plate with the Rangers in 2013, so it’s tough to make any concrete judgments about his ability to play going forward.