You knew it was a matter of time. It’s the moment you’ve all been
dreading waiting for. Let me lay the scene for you. The Rock enters the ring, grabs the microphone and pauses. He raises his eyebrow and brings the mic up. “Finally, Josh Thole has come back to Toronto!” Not how you pictured it? That’s OK. Regardless, it looks as though the Blue Jays roster will be carrying 3 catchers as the club is set to call up Thole from AAA.
The decision to carry 3 catchers will be an attempt to limit the action Russell Martin sees as he is trying to work through his hamstring issues. Recently, there has been a lot of concern about the health of Martin. A week ago, I wrote that they might want to limit his playing time to gain more benefit from his bat. Now, it appears that there is something causing his struggles. Our Keegan Matheson wrote about the need to get him right. Perhaps, this move will help do that.
With R. A. Dickey set to start on Sunday, it would make perfect sense that Thole is up and dressed to play then. After all, Thole was only brought to the Blue Jays because there wasn’t anyone who could handle catching the knuckleball. The club’s other option, Dioner Navarro, didn’t instill confidence that he could handle the task. This spring, Martin worked tirelessly to learn the job and handled it well enough that Thole was rendered redundant.
Toronto Blue Jays
With mere day left until the rosters expand in Spetember, clearly the Blue Jays felt it was necessary to make a move to protect Martin’s legs. So, Thole will be called upon. Having him handle Dickey provides one extra day of rest for Martin. Navarro is more than capable of stepping in to handle the bulk of the catching duty. He is not quite the defensive contributor that Martin is, but he isn’t exactly a huge down grade. All of this will allow Martin to rest more. Whether he is put into the DH role remains to be seen.
Martin has already said that his legs are not bothering him to the point where it impacts his ability to catch or throw runners out. So, why the need for a substitute? Well, you can’t just have a guy play the field. He has to hit…and run. This is where Martin meets some trouble if he is injured. But, this move (as opposed to a DL stint) shows the Blue Jays’ faith in Martin’s bat. Rather than placing him on the DL, it looks like they’ll give him some rest, DH him and hope that he can contribute.
But, the same reason that Martin can’t be a designated fielder is the same reason fans may cringe at the decision to bring up Thole. Fans have grown tired of his weak bat. The prospect of having him get regular playing time is not exactly appealing to most. In fact, many rejoiced when Martin showed that he could handle the knuckle ball, showing that there was no need to carry Thole’s light hitting bat. Well, that appears to be something that fans will now have to get over.
With Thole coming up, the logical choice to make room for him is Matt Hague. The Blue Jays haven’t given Hague any playing time since his call up. It would make sense for the two to switch spots. You would hate to see them to dip into their bullpen to carry 3 catchers.
The Blue Jays (and their fans) will hope that this is a short term solution and Martin will heal quicker with more rest. Until then, though, we will have to watch and hope that Thole can contribute enough offense that will at the very least not hurt the club. If he can handle the knuckleball, contribute some offense, and provide Martin the opportunity to avoid the DL, this might be a move that we can be OK with.