Francisco Pena
Royals' Pena thinks extra offseason reps will help him earn a spot
Francisco Pena, C, KC
News: Royals backup catcher Francisco Pena told reporters that his reps for the Dominican Republican in the Caribbean Series earlier in February could help him win a spot on the roster this spring, per

"I feel like the more games you play, the more chances you have to get better," Pena said. "I love baseball. It's what I know. I was inspired by watching the World Series, and I saw how much hard work and sacrifice it takes to get there. That's also something my father taught me, to work hard and be prepared."

Pena was a September callup last season, but only made one appearance in the majors in 2014. Although it's early in camp, Pena has an outside shot to make the club. The Royals have Erik Kratz currently listed as the backup to starter Salvador Perez.


John Hicks
Mariners catcher prospect John Hicks on the radar for MLB callup
John Hicks, C, SEA
News: Mariners catcher John Hicks might not be on the radar as an elite prospect, but after posting a .288/.337/.419/.756 slash line through four minor-league seasons, he at least has the attention of the Mariners' decision makers.

“He’s a catcher who has the ability to do a lot of things,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, per The News Tribune. “His bat plays. He’s got a bright future. He’ll probably see significant playing time this spring.”

Hicks is expected to open the season at Triple-A Tacoma, but he could make his MLB debut in 2015.

“Listen, you’re on the 40-man roster,” McClendon said. “You’re on that roster for a reason. That’s to (the club to) protect you in case we have injuries. Then you move up.

“So, yeah, there’s a chance he could see time in the big leagues this year if there’s an injury.”


Josmil Pinto
Twins C Josmil Pinto has eyes set on improving defensively
Josmil Pinto, C, MIN
News: Twins catcher Josmil Pinto struggled defensive last season. He was unable to throw out a base steals in all 20 attempts in 2014. Pinto, who is an early favorite to secure a backup spot behind Kurt Suzuki this season, told reporters he played Venezuela this offseason to get more reps and improve his skills defensively, according to

"That's the first reason I went to Venezuela," Pinto said. "I wanted to catch a couple games and improve my defense. It was the first year I played a complete season. So it was good.

"Improving my defense is the most important part to me making the team," Pinto said. "And I want to make the team."


Max Stassi
Astros manager A.J. Hinch offers advice to C Max Stassi
Max Stassi, C, HOU
News: During a batting practice session Friday, Astros manager A.J. Hinch noticed he could assist with some fundamental work behind the plate with catcher Max Stassi

With Stassi catching pitcher Chad Qualls, Hinch advised him to turn his shoulder on certain pitches, according to the Houston Chronicle

“There’s some angles you try to create both for the visual for the pitcher and also for the benefit of the umpire,” he said. “With all the talk of the framing stuff, we want to get the most strikes out of our pitchers. There’s certainly techniques to pay attention to even in side sessions and live BPs.”

For Stassi, it appears he was happy with the advice from Hinch, a former major-league catcher. 

“He’s caught in the big leagues," Stassi said. "He’s been there and done that. He was just giving me a few tips. It’s just framing and the positioning of your body too. It’s just real simple, a better presentation of the pitch for your pitcher and the umpire.


Alex Avila
Back injury keeps Tigers' Alex Avila out of workouts Friday
Alex Avila, C, DET
News: Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said catcher Alex Avila didn't participate in workouts Friday due to a sore back. He is being listed as day to day, per

Christian Vazquez
Vazquez on Varitek: Great teacher, the Google of baseball
Christian Vazquez, C, BOS
News: Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez seems to be very happy with the lessons he is learning from former Red Sox catcher and captain Jason Varitek.

"Great, great teacher," Vazquez said of Varitek, per "I call him the Google of baseball. It's so great to have somebody like him. It's a pleasure.

"Right now, we're working on receiving and getting the ball to travel more and just let it breathe. That's helped me. Varitek tells me I need to talk to each pitcher about what he likes, what he doesn't like. It's very important to get that trust. I'm like a manager now. I need to be in charge, calling games.

"I'm ready to help this team to win and help my teammates. We have a great group of pitchers here and we're trying to win this year and get to the playoffs. I'm here to win and helping the team. I'm excited to be here."


Bryan Holaday
Tigers backup catcher Bryan Holaday tweaked his stance, swing
Bryan Holaday, C, DET
News: Tigers backup catcher Bryan Holaday told reporters he has tweaked his stance and swing after experiencing an "eye-opening" 2014 campaign, according to the Detroit Free Press

"I've made a lot of adjustments; I feel better and I'm more confident," Holaday said. "I've done a little tweaking with my stance and my swing to make it more efficient. Basically shortened the swing to make my timing better."

Holaday hit .231/.266/.276 in 171 at-bats last season. Manager Brad Ausmus appears to be impressed by Holaday's adjustments at the plate early on.

"He looks good swinging the bat," Ausmus said. "It's early, but he looks good."


Matt Wieters
Orioles' Wieters will catch 5-7 innings in first game behind plate
Matt Wieters, C, BAL
News: Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Thursday catcher Matt Wieters (elbow) will catch 5-7 innings when he plays in his first spring game at catcher March 17, per

Kurt Suzuki
Twins' Molitor: Pinto, Herrmann Fryer competing for backup catcher spot
Kurt Suzuki, C, MIN
News: Twins manager Paul Molitor told reporters on Tuesday that there is a three-man race between Josmil Pinto, Chris Herrmann and Eric Fryer for the club's backup role behind Kurt Suzuki, per

"That's going to be an interesting competition," Molitor said. "There's different criteria you can consider. Do you want the guy that is going to be your best defender for 30-40 games or you want to have the offense and hopefully have enough defense? I'm open-minded."

At this point, Pinto may be the early favorite because of his threat at the plate. He hit 257/.339/.445 with 11 homers and 30 RBIs in 78 career games with Minnesota. Herrmann slashed .194/.264/.284 hitter in 97 games over parts of three years with the Twins. Fryer is hitting .246 in 50 career games.


Jason Castro
Astros still believe in Jason Castro after down year offensively
Jason Castro, C, HOU
News: After an All-Star campaign in 2013, Astros catcher Jason Castro suffered a bit of a drop-off, especially offensively, in 2014. He struggled to find an offensive rhythm last season, batting just .222 in a career-high 126 games.

Even though Castro is coming off a down year offensively, the Astros still have high hopes for the 27-year-old catcher.

"He's a player that's an important player on our team, and he needs to be himself. He can have an impact on both sides of the ball," Hinch said Monday, per the Associated Press. "I really believe that he's settling into an important few years of his career. ... As he's getting older and more mature and more comfortable in the league, and getting into his rhythm and game plan on catching and hitting, he's in a great spot to have a great impact."

Astros general manager Jeff Lunhow echoes Hinch's sentiments.

"He's been a key part of the team ever since I got here," Luhnow said. "He had his All-Star year a couple years ago. Last year we saw some major strides defensively with his game, which were important, and the offense slipped a little bit, but I think that if you can somehow get the offense from 2013 and the defense from 2014, you've got one of the better catchers in the game."


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