Healthy Susac leads crowded backup catcher's field

Healthy Susac leads crowded backup catcher's field

SAN FRANCISCO -- On paper, a scramble for the Giants' backup catcher's job appears imminent. In reality, Andrew Susac should reclaim the role with minimal fuss.

Settling on a stand-in for Buster Posey, San Francisco's three-time All-Star, shouldn't be a consuming issue after pitchers and catchers report to Major League camp on Feb. 17 in Scottsdale, Ariz. General manager Bobby Evans reported that Susac, last year's reserve until arthroscopic right wrist surgery ended his season in early September, seems healed.

"Everything sounds good," Evans said on Wednesday. "I don't think there are any concerns going in [to Spring Training]. ... I think if Susac is healthy and performs well, he's the most likely choice to be our backup."

Common sense requires the Giants to stockpile alternatives to Susac, who hit .218 with three home runs and 14 RBIs in 52 games last year:

Trevor Brown, who looked polished during a late-season, 13-game stint with the Giants and will participate in his first Major League camp.

Brown's two-run double

• Non-roster invitee George Kottaras, a seven-year Major League veteran who has played for seven teams.

Kottaras' two-run double

• Miguel Olivo, a 13-year big league veteran who agreed to a Minor League deal with San Francisco earlier this week. Evans said that Olivo was not invited to big league camp and will likely open the season with Double-A Richmond.

Consider the lesson derived from this event: As the Mets made ex-Giant Hobie Landrith their first selection in the expansion draft before their inaugural 1962 season, manager Casey Stengel explained the wisdom of the move.

"If you don't have a catcher, you're likely to have a lot of passed balls," the "Ol' Perfessor" observed.

Though that was etched in baseball history as one of Stengel's many humorous remarks, it spoke truth: Establishing catching depth is essential to constructing a roster. Catcher is the game's most physically grueling position, usually requiring an ample number of days off for the starter and considerable activity for his backup. Moreover, the Giants' 2016 schedule includes more than 35 day games following night games, occasions when a reserve catcher frequently leaves the bench and Posey plays first base or receives a complete rest.

Thus, developing a No. 2 catcher is a priority for San Francisco. In fact, the Giants must also select a No. 3 catcher if a call up is necessary, after Hector Sanchez fled to the White Sox in free agency.

"I think Susac, as all the guys do, built the trust of the pitching staff in calling a game and working hard at preparation," Evans said. "And obviously he's a threat offensively, so there's a lot to offer there."

Susac will attempt to regain the form he displayed in 2014, when he batted .273 in 35 games as a rookie. His prospects for 2015 took a turn for the worse when his wrist began bothering him as early as Spring Training. The Giants are ready to cope should there be a repeat experience.

"Our depth helps us if he struggles in any way," Evans said.

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.