Indians to let Marson catch on

Sept. 7, 2009 at 4:07 a.m.

By Sheldon Ocker

Akron Beacon Journal


CLEVELAND — Is Lou Marson destined to become the Indians' No. 1 catcher next year?

Certainly, he will be given that opportunity in a test that began Monday night and will continue into next spring training.

Marson was called up from Columbus and would have been in the lineup against the Texas Rangers, if the game had not been postponed by rain.

"He'll get as much time behind the plate as we can give him," manager Eric Wedge said. "It might not be every day, but we want to take a good look. And with (Carlos) Carrasco pitching, there's a lot of history between them. It will be good for Carrasco to have a guy behind the plate who knows him better than anybody."

Marson and Carrasco were part of the deal that sent Cliff Lee to the Philadelphia Phillies in July.

"We've been together since 2004 in the Gulf Coast League, when we were 17," Marson said, then smiled, adding, "I've been having to deal with him since then, so I'm tougher on him than the other guys. It just comes from having a long relationship with someone."

Ever since Victor Martinezwas traded to the Boston Red Sox on July 31, Wedge has been using three players to catch: backup Kelly Shoppach, who was behind the plate almost as much as Martinez; Wyatt Toregas, getting his first taste of the majors, and super utility player Chris Gimenez, who also plays the outfield.

Wedge and General Manager Mark Shapiro probably don't know with certainty who will be the everyday catcher in 2010. Even if they do, they are not about to divulge their secret.

"Nobody has established any roles yet," Wedge said.

Shoppach would seem to be the logical choice, because he has experience, but he has struggled through a sub-par season, and with a $1.9 million salary that likely would rise, he might be the odd man out.

"The way you play is always going to affect your future," Wedge said of Shoppach. "The biggest thing we need to see from him is consistency.

"He knows very well what he needs to do. The test for him — if he wants to be more than a backup catcher — is to do that. I think Kelly has the ability to be more than a backup. I really do."

Marson comes to Cleveland with a reputation as a big-league ready receiver with a leader's makeup and a contact hitter who has yet to learn to turn on pitches.

In 91 Triple-A games this year, he batted .277 with two homers, 18 doubles and 33 RBI in 314 at-bats.

Asked to describe himself as a catcher, Marson said, "I think my strength is calling a game."

Wedge hasn't seen Marson play, but his reports reinforce the catcher's self evaluation.

"He calls a game well for a young catcher, and he knows how to handle a staff," the manager said. "He's still developing in all areas of the game, but he has a chance to be a good hitter, too. He's a line-drive hitter right now."

And as a hitter?

"I was pretty good last year, andthis year I was pretty good until a couple of weeks ago," he said. "I've definitely learned what my strengths are. The thing I really try to do is have good at-bats."

Marson was an infielder until his junior year of high school, but all the while he harbored a desire to catch.

"I was an infielder growing up, but I always wanted to be a catcher," he said. "I tried to get my high school coach to throw me back there. He finally did, when one of our catchers failed a class, and I went behind the plate my junior year."

(c) 2009, Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio).

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