Last month I posted my thoughts on Josh Thole and how the heat was on for him this spring, and that he wasn’t going to be handed the starting catching job on a silver platter. Thole knows exactly what’s at stake:
“I’m getting to a point where we’re not in a trial-and-error period anymore,” Thole said. “It is what it is. If I don’t catch well over the course of this year, it will be a matter of who’s next, they’ll keep the line moving, and I can’t have that.”
But Thole isn’t the only one with his job on the line, backup catcher Mike Nickeas needs to prove to both Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson that he can produce at the major league level or he’ll be cut in a New York minute.
Nickeas was told he needs to cut down that big swing and make it more compact, and unless he can hit at a minimally acceptable level he won’t be long for this team.
But here’s the thing….
Have you noticed the inspired play from spring invitee Lucas May?
I bet Thole and Nickeas are watching.
May is a converted shortstop, but has made big strides as a catcher. He’s having one of the best springs in camp so far batting .357 in 7 games with 3 RBIs. Last season he batted .286 for the Kansas City Royals in a small sampling of 14 games, and in very limited play he has a .300 career batting average. He may get a real legitimate shot to stick, but even if he starts out in Buffalo, he’ll be breathing down Nickeas’ neck.
I know there are those who say spring stats don’t matter, but I don’t buy into that and most managers use spring stats to determine the winner of many a spring battle or competition.
That said, I’m not so sure May will go north with the team when all is said and done, but he may have influenced the hot starts from both Nickeas (.364) and Thole (.308) this spring. And that’s a good thing.