“He hasn’t played well recently,” Cashman said after watching [Jesus Montero] catch in Tuesday’s 6-2 loss to the Orioles. “He’s better than what he’s shown recently, catching-wise.
“He’s been struggling with the bat, and I don’t know if it’s cause-and-effect. I just know that last year he didn’t start catching well (in Triple-A) until he started hitting. And from June on, both went through the roof.”
Montero had a slim chance to make the team out of spring training, but after Francisco Cervelli hurt his foot his chances went through the roof and suddenly the backup job became his to lose. Things were going well early on as well as Montero’s defense looked much better than it had been advertised.
The problem is that Montero started struggling at the plate and although numbers don’t mean much in the spring it is bad when his struggles at the plate carry over to the field. Now the Yankees have to worry that their backup catcher will start the season struggling at the plate and behind it. Part of the problem is that Cashman said this happened last season. Montero struggled at the plate in Scranton and that carried over to his defense. When he started hitting, his defense picked up as well.
So now the Yankees are left to consider carrying Austin Romine behind the plate as their backup because they’re worried that Montero could struggle both offensively and defensively. There is trouble in that as well though as Romine might not be quite ready for the majors having never played above the Double-A level. That’s what may cause some people to mention the name Bengie Molina, although the fact that Cervelli should be returning by May makes that scenario very unlikely.
At this point it is hard to say what is going to happen. The Yankees may have no choice but to stick with Montero at this point just until Cervelli comes back. Spring training stats are usually unimportant, the Yankees know this and they’ll probably end up putting their faith in that. One thing is becoming clear, Cervelli’s career with the Yankees isn’t over yet.