PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Bobby Valentine loves what he’s seen from catcher Ryan Lavarnway, but he’s not quite ready to give him a spot on the 25-man roster.
Valentine, who has managed Ivan Rodriguez and Mike Piazza, said Lavarnway has made good strides with all phases of his defensive game. Catching instructor Gary Tuck has given the young catcher good grades after he’s made adjustments.
Valentine said he figures the decision on Lavarnway at the end is getting tougher, but as far as giving him a spot on the team, “I’m not quite there yet.”
He did acknowledge that Lavarnway’s foray into the major leagues “will happen under my watch.”
Valentine said that even when it happens he doesn’t expect Lavarnway will be a finished product because of all he’d have to learn.
“Salty is still learning, Kelly (Shoppach) is still learning. He’s learning our staff. A lot of things he has to keep developing with,” Valentine said..
Valentine said, even with the offensive component of Lavarnway’s game, he would not be tempted to go with three catchers. And he said he would not ever be afraid to use Lavarnway as a pinch-hitter if he was the second catcher where some managers would be hesitant to use the backup in case of an injury to the starter.
Valentine said he often pinch-hit Piazza on days he wasn’t catching in big situations and threw caution to the wind to win the game at that moment.
Valentine said Lavarnway’s improvement has not necessarily come “in game situations, but definitely has graded better in Tuck’s evaluation and in my eye. He’s going about it the right way. He’s there until the ninth inning every game and he’s not just on the bench, but he’s watching the game. He’s evaluating and processing. It’s the right thing to do and he’s not being told to do it. It’s not that he has an assigned seat. He’s just doing it.”
• Lars Anderson was scratched from the lineup today with calf stiffness. He was replaced by Mauro Gomez.
• Valentine said Jason Repko, “can do a lot of things during a baseball game. Yesterday he executed a perfect relay throw that cut down a runner at the plate. He can bunt and run, a very good outfielder. It’s good to know we have him if we need him.”
• Valentine said Pedro Ciriaco will play some outfield.
• Jose Iglesias could play tomorrow with his groin almost fully recovered..
• Valentine said if Ryan Sweeney (quad) feels as good as he did yesterday he should be ready by tomorrow.
• Valentine liked what Aaron Cook brought in his outing yesterday but as far as being able to make the team out of the gate, “I don’t know,” Valentine said. “He had a good outing against a regular lineup. He got his ground balls. It’s not ideal to have 18 innings in what I have him chartered out, but we’ll see.”
• Opening Day starter? It’s almost a daily question. Looks like we may get an answer tomorrow – maybe.
• Boston’s baseball operations people are watching amateur players work out back in Fort Myers.