Devin Mesoraco has been on the Reds’ active roster, attempting to play through a hip injury, for nearly the entire season. It hasn’t gone well, as he’s followed up an All-Star season by hitting just .178 and has been limited mostly to pinch-hitting duties because squatting behind the plate is a problem.
Today–nearly six weeks since his last start at catcher–the Reds finally placed him on the disabled list with a left hip impingement and season-ending surgery looms as a possibility for Mesoraco.
Brayan Pena has been filling in as the Reds’ starting catcher and he’ll never match the production Mesoraco provided last season while hitting 25 homers with an .893 OPS, but he’s done a solid job while batting .307 with zero homers and a .749 OPS in 31 games.
Mesoraco and the Reds agreed to a $28 million contract extension in January and manager Bryan Price spent all spring talking about how he wanted the 27-year-old catcher to start 140-plus games this season. Instead it’s looking like a totally lost year and his future is now in question as well.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.