Zaun, Fasano to anchor duties until young backstops are ready

By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com , 01/04/2008 10:00 AM ET

只需要再一些時間讓這些新人磨練好技巧,藍鳥隊就將在捕手這個位置完成重建。

不過在這一年,多倫多仍然需要有經驗、有戰績的老將來坐鎮本壘板後方。然後,也許在隨之而來的新球季中,藍鳥隊希望能給這些年輕人一些實戰的機會。

在這期間,
Gregg Zaun仍然會是2008年球季的先發人選。在他之後的主要替補則會是Sal Fasano,但是球團仍然希望在冬天結束前再找一名備胎來充實輪替陣容。

我還是認為我們會試著繼續補強這個位置,”GM J.P. Ricciardi在去年十二月簽下Fasano後如是說道。我不知道會經由什麼方式,交易是一種可能,可是自由球員市場上也有一些人選符合我們的需求,這方面還要再評估。至少現在我們已經知道我們的替補是誰了。

Zaun
Fasano這對36歲的組合可以提供不同的技術能力。Zaun的攻擊能力較為突出,而過去的4個球季也和投手群們培養出相當密切的關係;Fasano或許缺乏打擊能力,但是他對跑者的牽制能力較出色,也能夠提供給隊上更多的經驗。

在去年那個因為傷勢而被迫縮短的球季中,
Zaun只繳出了0.242的打擊率,但是在110場比賽中他還是擊出了10支全壘打和52分打點。他右手的一塊骨頭被已經轉到紅襪的Hinske所打出的一記界外球所擊碎,這讓他呆坐了6週同時也影響了他在六月歸隊後的打擊姿勢。

不過
Zaun仍然繳出了連續三季至少10轟的成績,也讓他自2005年以來已經有33轟的成績。而在他生涯的前十年,作為6支不同球隊的替補捕手,僅僅只有39轟。

Zaun
現在進入了他上一季和藍鳥隊簽下的2725萬美金合約的第二年了。由於他的名字出現在之前的Mitchell報告上面,想必他今年會受到一些額外的監督。

根據報告,
Zaun2001年時曾向大都會的員工Kirk Radomski購買合成類固醇。報告裡包括了一張據說是被用來購買藥物的支票複本。Zaun並未公開回應這項指控,但他有透過球隊發表過一項書面聲明。

我對Mitchell報告裡面的論述感到震驚,”Zaun在這份聲明中說道。我鄭重地否認這些宣言,但是現在我並不打算談得更多。

不過
Zaun的事件並不是現在多倫多在本壘板後方焦點的延伸。藍鳥隊對於阻止盜壘一直有不小的問題。當然有一些是投手群的問題,但是整支球隊在2007年那15%的阻殺率在大聯盟排在第二十九名,134次的被盜壘也高居倒數第三名。

球隊在
Zaun蹲捕時的ERA3.55,但是他上一季的阻殺率僅有15.1%。至於Fasano,去年他在藍鳥短暫的蹲捕時的ERA高達5.91,不過相對較強的臂力讓他的阻殺率達到21.4%

16場為多倫多的出賽中,Fasano的打擊率是0.178,擊出1支全壘打和4分打點。他上一季泰半在3A的雪城度過,在3A他的成績是0.262的打擊率、8支全壘打和47分打點。和上一季季後一樣,多倫多和他簽下一筆小聯盟約並邀請他參加春訓。

如果藍鳥隊能找到其他的替補人選,
Fasano可能就得回到3A去指導年輕的Robinzon DiazCurtis Thigpen。此外,Fasano也能暫時頂替一段時間,直到Diaz在球季稍晚時準備妥當並接到晉昇到大聯盟的通知為止。

他給了我們在阻殺跑者方面的一些選擇,”Ricciardi最近在提到Fasano時說道。我們會在六、七月時評估Diaz是否準備好了。

24
歲的Diaz在去年於2A的新罕布夏和3A的雪城合計出賽93場,打擊率達到0.320,同時擊出4支全壘打和40分打點。出生在多明尼加的Monte Plata的他在去年球季尾聲時因為左手受傷必須進行手術而提早結束了球季,不過預計在春訓時他就可以復原。

Diaz在春訓來競爭大聯盟的位置會是一項延伸,但是他有可能在今年季中就能接手。2000年以非選秀自由球員和藍鳥隊簽約的Diaz在過去四年被選入6支小聯盟明星隊,同時他也參加了去年全明星週的未來之星賽。

24
歲的Thigpen去年在大聯盟出賽了47場,主要是以替補捕手和一壘手出賽的他有0.238的打擊率和11分打點。而在3A50場比賽,他的成績分別是0.285的打擊率、3支全壘打和20分打點,而他的小聯盟生涯打擊率和上壘率分別是0.279/0.370

自從球隊在
2004年的第一年選秀中在第二輪挑中了他,藍鳥就對他的攻擊能力抱著高度的期待。在去年於大聯盟的短暫出賽期間,36.4%的阻殺率也讓他展現了鎮守本壘大關的功力。在今年春訓時他也許可以競爭一個替補的位置,但是他和Diaz還是比較有可能從3A出發,在季中來到大聯盟。唯一的問題是這通電話什麼時候才會來。

很明顯的這些孩子和Fasano都會為此而努力。”Ricciardi說。如果這些孩子確實打得不錯,我們應該會盡量在高層級的賽場上給他們一個位置。我認為我們還有時間去我們知道到底誰是這個位置的最佳人選。

原文
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are nearing a youth movement behind the plate. The club just needs to buy some time while its catching prospects continue to polish their skills. 


So for one more year,
Toronto will rely on a veteran catching cast with a proven track record. Then down the road -- perhaps even a few months into the upcoming season -- the Jays hope to set a transition period in motion by giving their younger catchers a chance.


In the meantime, Gregg Zaun enters the 2008 campaign as the starting catcher for the Blue Jays. Behind him on the depth chart, Sal Fasano projects to be the club's second option, but
Toronto might add another catcher to the mix for the backup job before the winter is over.


"I still think we'll continue to try to address that area," said Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi, discussing the backup-catching situation after signing Fasano in December. "I don't know what will be available. It might be via trade, and there are a few guys still out there who could fit our need via free agency. We'll see. Right now, at least we have a comfort knowing that we have a guy there."


In Zaun and Fasano, the Blue Jays have a 36-year-old catching tandem that offers different skill sets. Zaun has emerged as a sound offensive option, and he has developed a solid rapport with the pitching staff over the past four seasons. Fasano doesn't boast much with the bat, but he can help halt baserunners and adds experience to the clubhouse.


Last year, Zaun hit just .242 in an injury-shortened season, but he still managed to collect 10 home runs and 52 RBIs in 110 games. A foul ball off the bat of
Boston's Eric Hinske shattered a bone in Zaun's right hand in April, sidelining him for roughly six weeks and affecting his swing after his return in June.


Still, Zaun tallied at least 10 homers for the third consecutive season, giving him 33 long balls dating back to 2005. In the previous 10 seasons, Zaun notched 39 homers primarily as a backup catcher between stints with six different clubs.


Zaun is entering the final season under the two-year, $7.25 million contract that he signed with the Jays prior to last season. It figures to be a season in which Zaun faces some added scrutiny, considering the fact that his name surfaced in former Sen. George Mitchell's recent Report on performance-enhancing drug use in baseball.


According to the Mitchell Report, Zaun purchased anabolic steroids from former Mets clubhouse employee Kirk Radomski during the 2001 season. The Report included a signed copy of a check allegedly used to buy the steroids. Zaun hasn't spoken publicly yet about the accusations, but he did issue a statement through the Blue Jays when the Report came out.


"I am stunned by the allegations set forth in Senator Mitchell's report," Zaun said in the statement. "I emphatically deny these allegations but am not prepared to comment further at this time."


Zaun's issues aren't the extent of
Toronto's concern behind the plate, though. On the field, the Blue Jays have continued to struggle with stopping baserunners. Some of the blame undoubtedly rests with the pitching staff, but Toronto's caught-stealing percentage of 15 ranked 29th in the Majors in 2007. The 134 stolen bases the Jays allowed marked the third-highest total in baseball.


Toronto
's pitchers owned a 3.55 ERA with Zaun behind the plate, but he only threw runners out at a 15.1 percent clip last season. Fasano, who had a catcher's ERA of 5.91 last year, has a stronger arm and managed to stop 21.4 percent of would-be base thieves in his brief '07 tour with the Jays.


In 16 games with
Toronto, Fasano hit .178 with one homer and four RBIs. The veteran spent most of his time at Triple-A, where he hit .262 with eight homers and 14 RBIs in 47 games with Syracuse. Like last offseason, Toronto signed Fasano to a Minor League deal this winter and extended an invite to Spring Training.


If
Toronto finds a different solution for the backup role, Fasano will likely head back to Triple-A to help tutor catching prospects Robinzon Diaz and Curtis Thigpen. Otherwise, Fasano can serve a limited role with the Jays until Diaz is hopefully ready for a big league call later in the season.


"He gives us a little bit more of a catch-and-throw guy behind the plate against teams that run," Ricciardi said about Fasano recently. "Hopefully, Diaz is ready around June or July, and we'll evaluate it at that point."


Diaz, 24, hit .320 with four homers and 40 RBIs in 93 games between Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Syracuse in 2007. The native of Monte Plata,
Dominican Republic, was limited with a left hand injury late in the season that required surgery, but he is expected to be fine by Spring Training.


Having Diaz compete for a big league job this spring might be a stretch, but he certainly could force
Toronto's hand later in the year. Over the past four seasons, Diaz -- signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Jays in 2000 -- has been named to six Minor League All-Star teams, and he was a participant in last season's Futures Game during the MLB All-Star festivities in San Francisco.


Thigpen, 24, spent 47 games with the Blue Jays last season, hitting .238 with 11 RBIs and serving as a backup catcher and first baseman. Last year at Triple-A, Thigpen hit .285 with three homers and 20 RBIs in 50 games, and he has career Minor League marks of .279 and .370 in average and on-base percentage, respectively.


Ever since
Toronto took Thigpen in the second round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, the club has been high on his offensive promise. During his abbreviated stint with the Jays, Thigpen also displayed his abilities behind the plate, throwing out runners at a 36.4 percent clip. There's an outside chance Thigpen could vie for the backup job this spring, but it's more likely that he or Diaz will get the call later in the season. The only question mark is when such a promotion might come.


"Obviously, the kids will dictate that and Sal will dictate that," Ricciardi said. "If the kids are really playing well, I think we'll be put in a position where we may try to get them up here. I think this buys us enough time that we know we have a comfort in a guy that we like."

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