Thursday, June 12, 2014

Demoting Pinto

The Twins played a night game Tuesday; Kurt Suzuki caught. They played a game about 13 hours later; Suzuki caught again.

When the No. 1 catcher catches a day game after a night game, it's a serious sign that the manager isn't enthused about his No. 2 catcher.

The Twins announced after Wednesday's game that they were demoting Josmil Pinto. A corresponding move will be made Friday (saving a day of service time/major league pay). Presumably the corresponding move will be bringing up Eric Fryer, since Chris Herrmann has been out of action for about a week.

This move was pretty much inevitable with the signing of Kendrys Morales. In April, Pinto was essentially the regular designated hitter. His at-bats in that role dried up when the Twins demoted Herrmann, who never actually caught an inning for the Twins but still served as a security blanket. Without regular at-bats, Pinto's hitting tailed off in his sporadic starts. Worse for his chances of remaining on the big league roster, his defensive shortcomings became ever more apparent.

I argued at one point that restoring a third catcher would be worthwhile if it got Pinto back into the DH role. That proposition is now moot; Morales is the DH.

I'm not sure that a Triple A stint is going to do much for Pinto as a receiver. It seems likely Terry Steinbach, as a catching instructor, is better than the Rochester staff. But then, I suspect that if Pinto hasn't mastered the intricacies of catching by now, in his ninth season of pro ball, it may not happen. Still, a steady dose of playing time might get Pinto's bat going again.

Right now, it's difficult to blame Ron Gardenhire for leaning on Suzuki. He's not only superior defensively to Pinto, he's been surprisingly productive as a hitter.

At some point, however, Suzuki is likely to stop hitting .300. When that slump comes, it would be nice to have Pinto ready to hit again. At this point, he's a bit of a mess at the plate and behind it.

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