Mesoraco not expected to be on Opening Day roster

Club waiting for catcher to build up workload so he can play back-to-back games

March 26th, 2017

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Working his way back from left shoulder and right hip surgeries last year, Reds catcher has been free of setbacks or issues throughout Spring Training. The only thing Mesoraco is lacking, really, is time.

Mesoraco isn't expected to be on the Opening Day roster after camp breaks because he hasn't built up enough of a catching workload yet.

"I'd just say it's unlikely," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Sunday. "We can't rehabilitate him [in the Majors]. We tried to have scheduled off-days for him last year. For me, we're better served with him being 100 percent and saying if he needs to catch three days in a row, he catches three days in a row. If we say we want him to go every other day, you can't do that.

"Let's say every other day he catches one day and [Tucker] Barnhart takes a foul tip off his thumb and needs a couple of days. Devin's got to be the guy that plays. It's unfair to him for us to activate him before he's ready to handle the workload."

Mesoraco, 28, has been limited to 39 games over the last two seasons -- including 18 behind the plate. His left hip underwent an operation in 2015. All three surgical procedures he had involved repairing the labrum.

"Honestly, nobody has discussed anything with me," Mesoraco said. "But I don't think it's an extended, super-long period of time. Today, I'm supposed to play six or seven innings. I know they want me to go back-to-back [games]. I don't feel, physically, that would be an issue. I just have to get out there and do it."

Before Mesoraco is deemed ready, Price would like to see him catch nine innings on back-to-back days.

"With Devin, it's a process of getting him back to full in-season shape," Price said. "I'm not implying that he came here out of shape. He's just not built up to take on the workload."

Mesoraco, who is making $20.45 million over the final two years of his four-year contract, was expected to split time evenly with Barnhart in the early part of the season.

With the introduction of the 10-day disabled list this season, it's possible that Mesoraco won't miss too much time once he's ready. But roster constraints create a tough decision about whom the Reds select as Barnhart's backup in the interim.

is a Rule 5 selection who could be subject to returning to the Twins if he's not on Cincinnati's 25-man roster all season. Rob Brantly is a non-roster invitee.

"I'd be happy with either one of those guys," Price said. "I think they're both big league guys and I think they both can help our team. The challenge is, we could lose them both. If Turner doesn't make the club and we take Brantly, he's out of options. When Devin comes back, we risk losing [Brantly] on a claim."

Mesoraco has felt more explosive moving behind the plate after the hip surgeries. His shoulder has not affected him when trying to hit.

"The shoulder has gotten much better here the last couple of weeks," he said. "At this point, I don't even have to think about it. It feels really good. I'm happy with everything that we're doing. I'm trying to keep the ball rolling."