Barnhart ready to be Reds' everyday catcher

Barnhart ready to be Reds' everyday catcher

CINCINNATI -- Knowing that catcher Devin Mesoraco was coming off major hip surgery last year, it was paramount for the Reds to have backup Tucker Barnhart ready to step up in case of a setback this season. That setback came Monday, but it wasn't to Mesoraco's hip. He could potentially be out for the season because of a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

Cincinnati's everyday catcher spot now belongs to Barnhart for the foreseeable future. Mesoraco, currently on the 15-day disabled list, must soon decide if he will have season-ending surgery.

"I feel terrible for Devin. It's something I have to take on a role of playing a lot more and it's something I'm ready to embrace," Barnhart said Tuesday. "I think I go into every offseason preparing to play every day regardless if I'm going to play 40 games that season or 140 games or whatever in between. I've prepared for it and I'm ready to go."

Reds manager Bryan Price said Tuesday that Barnhart "will play a lot," with Ramon Cabrera backing up if a day off is needed. Jordan Pacheco can be a third catcher if the need arises but is unlikely to get a start behind the plate.

Barnhart, 25, played 81 games in 2015 and split catching duties with Brayan Pena after Mesoraco was no longer able to catch just a couple of weeks into last season. The Indianapolis-area native rose steadily through the organization since he was a 10th-round pick in the 2009 Draft and debuted in the Majors in 2014.

Already well-regarded for his defensive and game-calling skills, the switch-hitting Barnhart has noticeably improved himself offensively this season. From both sides of the plate, he's hitting the ball hard and to all fields.

Barnhart believes he can sustain his current production as a hitter.

"I've put a lot of work in, in the spring and in winters past just to develop some more consistency at the plate," he said. "I think sticking to more of an approach that I feel I'm good at as opposed to tailoring an approach to the specific pitcher that evening has really helped out a lot. It's allowed me to be more confident at the plate. I think it's showing a little bit."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.