— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) March 25, 2013
[Hat-tip: Blaine Bontz of MLB Daily Dish, Bryan J. Boltik and Rockkstarr12, who all let me know or posted about it!] And there I was, just writing up a piece about the issues left to be decided by the Diamondbacks this spring. Well, dammit: I put the effort in, so you're still going to have to read it!
Who gets the back-up catcher job?
There hasn't been quite as much talk about this one, which is understandable, considering Miguel Montero will be out there any time his count of functioning limbs reaches or surpasses three. Still, both Wil Nieves and Rod Barajas have had playing time in spring: Nieves in 13 games with 29 PAs, Barajas getting 14 games and 35 PAs. Must have comes as a surprise to Nieves who learned of his rival's signing from a fan at FanFest, Barajas has hit for excellent power with seven of his nine hits being for extra bases, but Nieves has the better average, and has also thrown out three base-runners to Barajas's one [an area where the latter struggled mightily last year]
This one is likely to be the last decision made this spring, and will probably go all the way to next weekend. As usual, Gibson is keeping his cards close to his chest and saying little to indicate which way he might be leaning. On Saturday, he said, "I came in today and watched Ian Kennedy's last two starts as well as last night's game, just to watch our catchers. It's a very close situation. It'll be a tough decision." The decision probably will be decided by whether the team prefers Barajas's bat off the bench, or Nieves's defensive abilities.
Looks like I wasn't quite right about it being the last decision, but it does seem that defense is being seen by the team as more important that offense. Nieves experience handling the pitching staff last year may also have been helpful, and Barajas probably didn't help his cause by using up his entire 2013 quota of base-runners thrown out this spring... The $800K in the deal wasn't a guaranteed contract for Barajas; Nieves now seems like a lock, and he'll earn the same amount in 2013.