The math was simple – three catchers, two spots. Devin Mesoraco knew another move was coming when the Reds signed Brayan Pena to a two-year deal last month, nobody had to tell him.
“I knew he wasn’t going anywhere, so I knew it was me or Hani, but I’ve got to say it worked out pretty good for (Hanigan),” Mesoraco said.
After Tuesday’s trade, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said the signing of Pena and trade of Hanigan was to make Mesoraco the “frontline” catcher. That’s something Mesoraco believes, as well.
“I believe that I’m an everyday catcher in the big leagues. I don’t think I’ve quite played as good as I can,” Mesoraco said. “I think playing every day, getting all the reps, getting that at-bats, that’s only going to help. We’ll go from there. We’ll go from there and I believe we’re going in the right direction.”
In the Reds’ 22 games with Hanigan on the DL, Mesoraco played in 21 of them and started 17. During that stretch he hit .286 with a .306 on-base percentage and a .514 slugging percentage with four home runs.
“It was right after the All-Star break that Hani went down, and I’m not going to say it had to do with playing every day, but I think my comfort level at that time, I felt (more) comfortable, it was like it was my job, my team, I could go out there and be the player I feel like I can,” Mesoraco said.
His current position reminds Mesoraco of 2010, when he started the season in Class A and was coming off a disappointing 2009 at the same level. After hitting just .228/.311/.381 in 92 games in his second full season in pro baseball, Mesoraco had to start at the same level, but didn’t stay there long. In all, he tore through Class A, Double-A and eventually settled in Triple-A by the end of the season. He hit .302/.377/.587 with 26 home runs in 113 games at three different levels.
“I struggled for two years in the minors, where I was holding my water, but I wasn’t playing the way I felt I could,” Mesoraco said. “My defense started coming around and getting better and then I went into 2010 and went back to high-A, which I wasn’t happy about, but I felt it was my team. I felt like I was going to be a leader on the team, I felt like I was going to be able to go out there and play every day and do that kind of stuff. This upcoming year feels a lot like that, I’m expected to be an everyday guy, I’m expected to go out there and help lead the pitching staff and do that kind of thing.”
“Hopefully that’s when I take off,” he said. “The comfort level is the biggest thing. You get into the locker room and you’ve got some older, established guys and you’ve got to go about your business the right way or you’re not going to fit in. I think I’m past that stage, I’m at the stage where everyone expects me to be there, they expect me to play, they expect me to do well.”