Blue Jays: With Martin down, who is gonna catch?
The Blue Jays’ injury woes continued on Friday night, as Russell Martin had to exit the game in the 2nd inning with an apparent oblique injury. It’s not known how long he’ll be out at this stage, but the oblique can be a tough injury to heal. In the mean time, who is gonna catch in Toronto?
Every time things start to feel like they’re turning in the Blue Jays’ favour, it feels like something comes along to steal the momentum. The latest thief of said momentum would be the injury to Russell Martin, which happened on Friday night against his former team, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Martin had to come out of the game in the top of the 2nd inning on Friday, after being in obvious pain while running out a ground ball he hit in the bottom half of the first. He returned to the field for warm-ups in the top of the second, but quickly realized he wasn’t going to be able to continue.
From there, Raffy Lopez took over and that could be something we see a lot of in Toronto, at least for the next little while. Lopez was called up on August 4th when the Blue Jays made some roster shuffles, sending Joe Biagini to Buffalo to get stretched out, and putting Miguel Montero on the disabled list. Montero tweaked his groin in a game on August 2nd, so the team needed Lopez to come and serve as the back-up catcher.
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Now that Martin is on the shelf, the 29 year old journeyman catcher is likely going to get several starts, at least until Montero is back. This is not his first taste of the big leagues, as he played in seven games with the Chicago Cubs in 2014, and appeared in another eight with the Cincinnati Reds last season. This could be his first chance to consistently start at the highest level though, and the Blue Jays have to be thankful that they have him on the 40 man roster.
Montero should be back sooner than later, although a groin injury can be a tricky one for a catcher. Luke Maile, another catcher on the disabled list, isn’t terribly close to being ready to play either, so Lopez could maintain his roster spot for awhile, even if he ends up serving as Montero’s eventual back-up.
The Blue Jays could go in order directions as well, possibly looking at some of the options they have in their minor league system. Danny Jansen has moved up several levels in the minor league rungs this year, and has hit at every stop along the way. The Jays may not want to push his development too much, but it’s possible they give him a look and see how he responds, especially if Martin is going to be out awhile.
Mike Ohlman is another familiar name for Blue Jays’ fans, and the power hitting catcher could get a shot to strut his stuff in the big leagues. He made a cameo with the Jays earlier this season, appearing in five games and getting two hits in nine at bats. He’s not the strongest defensive option, but his bat is a little more advanced than some of the other options.
They could potentially do the same with someone like Reese McGuire as well, who should be able to handle the defensive side of the MLB at least. McGuire could be a longer shot, as he just returned to the lineup in Double A New Hampshire after rehabbing knee surgery, but he’s someone to watch in the immediate future as well.
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Regardless, with Martin dealing with an oblique injury, there’s a good chance the Blue Jays will need someone to cover him for an extended period of time. If Montero can’t get healthy enough to get on the field in short order, look for some combination of Raffy Lopez, and one of both of Danny Jansen or Mike Ohlman to get the call up.
*Update- according to Keegan Matheson of MLB.com, Mike Ohlman is at the ballpark, and we await the official announcements and roster moves from the team.