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Fay: Reds Question 7: Can Devin Mesoraco come back as everyday catcher?

Will his repaired hips hold up?
Fay: Reds Question 7: Can Devin Mesoraco come back as everyday catcher?
Posted at 8:00 AM, Feb 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-11 08:00:32-05

This is the seventh in a series of nine questions about the Reds as they head toward spring training.

CINCINNATI -- Devin Mesoraco's situation is a lot like Homer Bailey's.

The Reds are hopeful, but no one knows exactly what to expect. As Bailey's setback shows, it's hard to count on someone who's missed virtually all of the last two seasons and is coming off multiple surgeries.

Mesoraco, 28, has had surgery on both hips and his left shoulder in the last two years. He's had a good offseason.

"I'm stronger at this point than I was last year," he said.

But he won't get a good test of the shoulder until he hits against live pitching, and catching every day will be a test for his hips.

Mesoraco knows this is a big year for him. He knows he won't get many more chances to prove he's the same guy who hit .273 with 25 home runs and 80 RBI and was an All-Star in 2014.

The injuries have limited Mesoraco to 39 games over the last two years and hampered his effectiveness when he did play. He's hit .158 with no home runs in those 39 games.

"They're not going to wait around forever," Mesoraco said at Redsfest. "I've got to be out there playing. I realize this may be the last time I have an opportunity to be an everyday player and establish myself as one of the better catchers in the game, the guy the organization invested in and knew they had. It just hadn't turned out the way everybody hoped. That's the player I think I am. My expectation is to get back there."

The plan is for Mesoraco to get the majority of playing time if he can handle the workload. If he can't, the Reds are better equipped to handle it than they were last spring.

Tucker Barnhart had a solid year at the plate in Mesoraco's absence last year. Barnhart, 26, hit .257 with seven home runs and 51 RBI in 377 at-bats.

Barnhart, 26, won a Gold Glove as the top catcher in all of the minors. His bat was the question. It's less so now.

The Reds picked up Stuart Turner from the Minnesota Twins in the Rule 5 draft to add depth at catcher. Turner, 25, hit .239 in Double-A last year. The Reds have to keep him on the 25-man roster all year or offer him back to the Twins. That decision, of course, will hinge on how healthy Mesoraco is in the spring. And, as the Reds found out with Bailey, the health of a player coming off multiple surgeries is hard to predict.

John Fay is a freelance sports columnist; this column represents his opinion. Contact him at johnfayman@aol.com.

Question 6: With Homer Bailey out, who joins the rotation?
Question 5: Is Scott Schebler right for right field?
Question 4: Will we see first-half Votto or second-half Votto?
Question 3: Who closes? Storen? Iglesias? Cingrani?
Question 2: What should fans expect from Homer Bailey?
Question 1: Where does Price play top prospect Jose Peraza?