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D'backs preview. Catcher

2004 performance
Juan Brito     .205/.246/.298, 3 HR, 12 RBI
Robby Hammock  .214/.265/.357, 2 HR, 15 RBI
Brent Mayne    .264/.356/.356, 0 HR,  9 RBI
Chris Snyder   .240/.327/.458, 5 HR, 15 RBI

2005 predictions
Koyie Hill     .270/.328/.404, 9 HR, 50 RBI
Kelly Stinnett .230/.299/.351, 3 HR, 15 RBI

Arizona catchers in 2004 defined the word "platoon" - except it was more of a battalion, with all of the four above playing at least 29 games. Initially, Arizona went with experience, opening with Mayne and Bobby Estalella, the latter a short-term signing to cover Hammock, who started the season on the DL after knee surgery and came back at the end of April. Estalella had two hits for Arizona in his time here: both were homers.

The highlight of Hammock's year - and possibly his career - was catching Randy Johnson's perfect game in Atlanta. However, his season ended in July with a shoulder injury, and it's been downhill ever since. He initially refused surgery, and concerns over his health led to him being placed on waivers earlier this month - but, even then, no-one wanted him. It's a sad end for a popular player...especially with the ladeez... :-)

Juan Brito was called up in June after Brent Mayne strained his back, and stayed until the end of the season - he ended up with most games behind the plate. However, his colleagues were a revolving-door: first Hammock, then Mayne, and when Mayne went to LA as part of the Finley trade, Koyie Hill came the other way and took over in the mask. However, inside three weeks, he had his right ankle broken in a collision at home plate (remarkably, he played the rest of the innings with it!). Chris Snyder was yanked up from Double-A to replace Hill, and did surprisingly well, hitting five home runs in less than a hundred at-bats.

This season, Hill and Snyder are doing battle in spring training, with Stinnett backing up as and when needed - the loser of the duel gets sent to AAA Tucson. Hill will likely get the nod, having been more consistent in his minor-league career; Snyder did impress in his leap from the AA level, but if he has to spend the year in Tucson, it'll help his development more than Hill's - Snyder is almost two years younger. However, there's now likely to be a bit of a logjam, with Brito, Craig Ansman and multi-purpose marvel Corey Myers all also jockeying for playing time there.

Stinnett returns to the D'backs, having been here in the first three seasons of the franchise. He provides a solitary link to the players who appeared for the Diamondbacks in 1998, Arizona's debut year - which includes names like Ricky Pickett and Neil Weber. Who? Exactly. How long ago that all seems now...