KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- It's highly unconventional for a team to carry three catchers, but Astros manager Cecil Cooper may lean that way when camp breaks in a little over two weeks.
J.R. Towles is tabbed as the No. 1 catcher, with Brad Ausmus slated to back him up. That would seemingly leave Humberto Quintero without a spot in the 25-man roster, but the Astros aren't ready to write off the defensively sound catcher just yet.
Quintero is out of options and will have to go through waivers before the Astros can send him to the Minor Leagues. With an overall lack of catching talent in the big leagues, it's highly likely Quintero would be claimed by another club.
The Astros will have to weigh the importance of holding onto Quintero against the possible drawbacks of carrying three catchers. That would probably mean the club would employ an 11-man pitching staff instead of the usual 12.
Cooper may be comfortable with one less reliever in the 'pen because of the number of relievers who can throw multiple innings. Doug Brocail, Oscar Villarreal, Chris Sampson and Dave Borkowski seemingly fit that bill.
"We've got several long men," Cooper said. "That would make it a possibility."
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.