Dodgers want versatile Barnes to focus on catching

Acquired from Miami, prospect likely advancing to Triple-A this season

Dodgers want versatile Barnes to focus on catching

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Austin Barnes has the rare skill set for catching and second base, but the Dodgers have told him to put away the infield glove.

For now, Barnes will work exclusively as a catcher, general manager Farhan Zaidi said. When Barnes was acquired from Miami in the Dee Gordon trade, the Dodgers said Barnes' versatility was one of the attractions.

But Zaidi said the club now wants Barnes to focus on catching. With Yasmani Grandal and A.J. Ellis behind the plate in the Major Leagues, Barnes is expected to share Triple-A catching duties with non-roster invitee Chris O'Brien. Shawn Zarraga is the other non-roster catcher in camp after Ali Solis left because of a contractual issue.

Zaidi said the club is not in the market for a journeyman catcher at Triple-A as insurance. That role last year belonged to Miguel Olivo, until he was released after biting off a chunk of teammate Alex Guerrero's ear during a dugout incident.

Splitting time last year between Class A Advanced and Double-A, Barnes played 73 games at catcher, 30 at second base and 15 at third. He hit .317 at High A, .296 at Double-A and has a .298 career Minor League batting average and .821 OPS in four seasons.

The 25-year-old from Riverside, Calif., was a ninth-round Draft pick in 2011 out of Arizona State University.

Ken Gurnick is the Los Angeles Dodgers beat reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.