Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Rupp battling to be Phillies' backup catcher

Veteran has options as Alfaro, Knapp appear to have edge
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Cameron Rupp is one of the final Phillies with links to Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels and Ryan Howard.

Rupp watched that core slowly fade away as the organization hit bottom in the National League.

View Full Game Coverage

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Cameron Rupp is one of the final Phillies with links to Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels and Ryan Howard.

Rupp watched that core slowly fade away as the organization hit bottom in the National League.

View Full Game Coverage

"That's where we've kind of been the last couple years," Rupp said on Tuesday at Spectrum Field. "Now you see glimpses of those guys in new players and it's starting to go up. Then they get [Jake Arrieta]. They get [Carlos Santana], [Pat Neshek], [Tommy Hunter]. You see the young core players that are fixing to hit their strides in the big leagues and go. I want to be part of that."

But Rupp might not be part of it. The Athletic reported on Monday that the Phillies have made Rupp available via trade. Jorge Alfaro is a lock to make the team. Alfaro not only is talented, but he is out of options. Andrew Knapp has the edge over Rupp for the second catcher's job. Knapp is a switch-hitter with a propensity to control the strike zone, a skill the Phils covet. Scouts also believe Knapp grades out better defensively than Rupp.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

If Rupp is not traded, he can be optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. It would be a tough pill to swallow for somebody who has not played in the Minor Leagues since 2014.

"That wouldn't be ideal, let's put it that way," Rupp said. "It's the nicest way to say it, I guess. It's not an ideal situation, but if that's what they see what's best for the organization -- I don't have a choice. I mean, what am I going to say? No? At the end of the day, I don't have that luxury. I don't have the option to make that decision. I'm still under the team's control."

It would be surprising to see the Phillies simply remove Rupp from the 40-man roster, if he does not make the team. It is rare for a team to use only two catchers over a 162-game season. Logan Moore is probably the organization's No. 4 catcher at this point. He has no Major League experience.

Rupp and manager Gabe Kapler had a lengthy closed-door meeting last week following a Grapefruit League game against the Braves. Kapler declined to discuss the meeting afterward. Rupp said he simply was just "finding out what's going on."

Video: PHI@BAL: Rupp nabs Santander trying to swipe second

"Just talking," Rupp said. "It was more just seeing where things are going. There's still a week left. Whatever decision is made or hasn't been made, it can change. That's one of those things where I've got to put my head down and play."

Asked if the conversation with Kapler brought him peace with his situation, Rupp said, "You want the truth. That's all anybody wants. You don't want to be lied to. He was honest with me. At the end of the day, that's all a guy wants. You don't want this back and forth, well, you're hearing one thing and they tell you another. Now who do you really believe? That's not the case."

Rupp is hitting .207 (6-for-29) with one double, one home run, two RBIs, two walks, 13 strikeouts and a .626 OPS this spring. Knapp is hitting .143 (3-for-21) with two doubles, one home run, two RBIs, two walks and seven strikeouts this spring.

Neither has fared well at the plate, but the Phillies will consider track records, along with defensive capabilities. Rupp has a career .298 on-base percentage with a .705 OPS. Knapp had a .368 on-base percentage and a .736 OPS in 56 games last season.

Video: ATL@PHI: Knapp, Phillies excited to catch for Arrieta

Rupp hit .252 with 16 home runs, 54 RBIs and a .750 OPS in 2016. He ranked eighth among 19 qualified catchers in OPS that season. But he struggled last year, posting a .716 OPS.

"I don't know what's going to happen," Rupp said. "I want to be where I'm wanted. If it's not here it would be tough because this is all I know. But it's out of my hands. It's nothing I can control. I can only play when I get my opportunity and show them I belong."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Philadelphia Phillies, Jorge Alfaro, Andrew Knapp, Cameron Rupp