Lack of third catcher hinders Tigers’ bench options

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
John Hicks

Detroit – The Tigers could have used Andrew Romine on Friday.

Nothing against new utility man Niko Goodrum, but he doesn’t catch. Romine served as the Tigers’ emergency catcher the last few seasons and manager Ron Gardenhire would’ve liked to have that option on Friday in the 13-10, 13-inning loss to the Pirates.

“I talked about that all through spring training,” Gardenhire said. “Should we work on a third catcher? We just have to try not to use two catchers in a game.”

The situation came up late in the game Friday. Gardenhire was tempted to use backup catcher John Hicks to pinch-hit for left-handed hitting Leonys Martin with two outs in the ninth inning against left-hander Josh Smoker.

But, with the game tied, Gardenhire was reluctant to leave himself with one catcher.

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“Absolutely,” he said. “If you get two guys whacked up, I don’t have a third catcher. I really don’t want to be in a game with somebody who’s never been back there before. We have to be really careful.

“Our bench is thin enough. Even using Hicks as a DH is dicey, even though I could still put him behind the plate if something happened. The pitcher would just have to hit.”

During his final years in Minnesota, he had the luxury of having Chris Herrmann on the roster, a guy who could play first base, third base, outfield and catch. The Tigers had that with Romine the last four seasons.

Now? Emergency catcher options are limited.

“I don’t think I would put Victor (Martinez) back there now,” Gardenhire said of the 39-year-old designated hitter. “Mikie Mahtook would be my best guy. He wouldn’t care. He’d just do it and entertain himself.”

Twitter @cmccosky