LOS ANGELES - By all accounts, the Diamondbacks have been fortunate with recent back-up catchers.
Two years ago, Henry Blanco extended his 16 year major league career with a productive 2012 season and mentoring Miguel Montero. Last year, the D-backs benefited from Wil Nieves and his .306 batting average in 71 games.
This spring, Blanco, at the age of 42, was back to hook on with the D-backs and faced stellar competition from Tuffy Gosewisch, a former Arizona State standout.
The contest to back-up Montero was close and strong. Just before the home season opened March 31 in Chase Field against the Giants, manager Kirk Gibson came up to Gosewisch and told the 30-year-old he made the team.
“They really didn’t me a reason or say why I was chosen over (Blanco),” Gosewisch said before Saturday’s game with the Dodgers in Dodger Stadium. “They told me my role was essentially to give (Montero) a day off and handle pitchers.”
Short and sweet, but the road to the major leagues for Gosewisch was arduous and tough. Drafted in the 11th round by Philadelphia in the 2005 draft, he climbed as high as Triple-A Lehigh Valley in the Phillies organization before dealt to Toronto on July 31, 2012.
Still, the Arizona organization has Gosewisch under a microscope.
Since turning pro with Batavia in the Phillies organization in 2005, the Diamondbacks kept their eye on the 5-11, 200-pound graduate of Phoenix Horizon High School. During the 2012-13 off-season, the D-backs moved in and signed Gosewisch as a minor league free agent.
“Since his days in the Philadelphia organization, we’ve watched him,” Gibson said before Saturday’s game. “He’s prepared, dedicated, professional, and fills the role very well. What’s there not to like?”
While climbing through the Phillies chain, Gosewisch said he never entertained thoughts of dropping his catcher‘s mitt for a white-collar job. Slowly, he made his way from Advanced-A Clearwater, to Double-AA Reading and to Lehigh Valley. Along the way, he demonstrated the skills which earned Gosewisch, with Reading, the Eastern League’s Best Defensive Catcher in 2010.
Taking advantage of the Diamondbacks’ confidence, Gosewisch has stepped in as Montero back-up and given Arizona quality time behind the plate. By his own admission, “if I hit, it’s a bonus.”
On Friday night in Dodger Stadium, he registered a season-best three hits and knocked in a run against L. A. reliever Brian Wilson. Coming into play Saturday, Gosewisch was hitting .250 (10-for-40) and appeared in 13 games.
Despite the long and winding road, Gosewisch would have it no other way.
Referring to the possibility of walking away and recognizing he would reach no further then Triple-A, that thought never entered his mind.
“Not a chance I would take that action,” he indicated. “I have only one chance to play this game and if I step away, I can never go back.”
ON THE RADAR SCREEN
Manager Kirk Gibson needs 18 more victories to pass Bob Melvin as the Diamondbacks skipper with the most wins. Melvin amassed 337 wins. … Martin Prado needs three hits to reach the 1,000 hits in his major league career. When he does that, Prado becomes the 26th Venezuelan to reach that mark. … Cody Ross is two RBIs short of recording 500 for his major league career. These numbers are all before Saturday's game with the Dodgers.
The Mobile BayBears, the D-backs’ Double-A affiliate, clinched a spot in the Southern League playoffs.
This is the fifth straight season Mobile qualified for post-season play.
Plus, Mike Fetters, the D-backs’ quality control coach, was inducted into the Milwaukee Brewers Wall of Honor. A total of 58 players met a criteria while also wearing a Brewers uniform.
Among those also inducted include Hank Aaron, Greg Counsel, Paul Monitor, Richie Sexton, Bob Uecker, Robin Yount and former Milwaukee owner and current baseball commission Bug Selig.
In 289 games with Milwaukee from 1992-97, Fetters was credited with 79 saves and posted a 2.99 ERA.