05/10/2004 12:36 PM ET
Redmond, Castro up for challenge
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
MIAMI -- Just when Mike Redmond is positioned to get a handle on the Marlins' starting catcher job, the 33-year-old finds himself tending to a broken pinkie.
|Since the injury, Mike Redmond has played in six games to 10 for Ramon Castro. (David Adame/AP)
Eager for production behind the plate, manager Jack McKeon encouraged either Redmond or Ramon Castro to solidify the spot.
"If somebody wants to take the job, take it," McKeon said. "We've given Castro every chance in the world, and Redmond has been productive."
Considered to have more upside at age 28, Castro started on Opening Day and he's played 20 games compared to 17 for Redmond.
With strong power potential, the Marlins feel Castro has the ability to belt 15-20 home runs. Early on, however, his lack of experience has hurt mostly in situations where base hits or ground ball outs would have generated runs. His average is just .154 with two home runs and four RBIs. With runners in scoring position, he's 2-for-21 (.095).
Redmond, meanwhile, is batting .283 with one home run, three doubles and 10 RBIs. With runners in scoring position, he's 4-for-9 (.444).
"Red may be hurt, but he will put it in play," McKeon said. "We've got two different type catchers. One guy is supposed to be a power hitter and the other guy puts it in play."
More than power, McKeon wants to see contact.
Castro has struck out 19 times in 65 at-bats, compared to five strikeouts in 53 for Redmond.
"We've got two and we're going to use them," McKeon said. "Red has knocked in a lot of runs, already. When you put the ball in play, that's the key. We're not a home run-hitting club. We've got a few guys who can hit the ball out of the ballpark, but we can't sit back and wait for home runs. We're not going on a Moneyball theory [play for the big inning and homer]. We don't have that kind of consistency."
No one is more frustrated by Castro's struggles than the catcher himself. He did have his first multi-hit game of the season on Sunday, going 2-for-4 with two strikeouts in a 7-4 win over the Padres.
"I'm trying," he said. "I'm trying hard. They are telling me to let my ability to take over. I am feeling better. Right now I'm struggling a bit, but I feel like I can get better."
After studying film, Castro admits he is pressing.
Hitting coach Bill Robinson is working with Castro on not trying to pull everything. By over-swinging, he is vulnerable to missing pitches away.
A strength of Redmond's is his ability to slap the ball to right, and he is one of the team's better hit-and-run options.
If needed on a daily basis, Redmond says he is preparing himself to be ready. The trouble now is his left pinkie has been in a splint since he chip fractured the bone diving headfirst into second base on April 23 at home against the Braves.
Since the injury, Redmond has played in six games to 10 for Castro.
Because of Redmond's poise behind the plate, he has handled all of energetic left-hander Dontrelle Willis' starts.
"I've never played in an everyday-type situation," Redmond said. "I'm up to the challenge, sure. I guess the only frustrating part is I'm playing with a broken finger. That's been the only kind of struggle for me, hitting-wise."
The splint is expected to come off in about a week. And while he is cleared to play, McKeon wants to give the finger enough time to heal properly so it isn't nagging him all season.
"This finger feels good but I have to wear this splint 24 hours a day, probably for [seven] more days at least," Redmond said. "It's uncomfortable. It's OK to catch because it's in my glove, but it's uncomfortable to hit and stuff. I'll work through it, suck it up."
A couple of times already the finger was stung catching Willis' fastballs. One occasion was on a cold Friday night in San Francisco a week ago.
"The most important thing is for our pitching staff and to keep our pitching staff going, and to be able to handle the bat," Redmond said. "I know I can do that. I'm grinding it out right now until I get this finger better and getting myself back to where I was [two weeks ago]."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.