The Los Angeles Dodgers went into the spring with a bit of a competition at catcher, as Austin Barnes supplanted Yasmani Grandal as the team’s starter towards the end of last season and throughout most of the postseason.
Grandal was an All-Star for the Dodgers in 2015 and has hit 49 home runs in the last two seasons combined. Manager Dave Roberts said at the outset of Spring Training that he expected Grandal reported to camp with the mindset of winning his starting job back.
Grandal has done everything to do that this spring, including on Tuesday hitting his team-leading fifth home run. It came part of a hot stretch that’s seen Grandal go 10-for-his-last-14.
Barnes, on the other hand, has struggled this spring as he is just 3-for-27 (.111 batting average). With just over a week until Opening Day, it appears Roberts has decided on Grandal serving as the primary starter behind the plate, via Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times:
Although Austin Barnes supplanted Yasmani Grandal as the Dodgers’ starting catcher last October, Grandal will reclaim his role this season. “Yasmani is going to get most of the at-bats,” manager Dave Roberts said.
Barnes should still get plenty of playing time at catcher, particularly against left-handed pitching. He has thrived against southpaws in the past, while Grandal has struggled.
Additionally, with the recent injury to Justin Turner and Logan Forsythe now moving to third base, Barnes could see some time at second base, as he has played there in the past.
Grandal ended last season in a slump, but he still managed to hit .247/.308/.459 with 22 home runs and 58 RBIs in 129 games. He historically gets off to hot starts to seasons, so he will look to do the same as the Dodgers primary catcher in 2018.