The Los Angeles Dodgers’ catching depth has been put to the test early in this season, as both of the team’s Major League catchers, Austin Barnes and Russell Martin, have already spent time on the 10-day injured list.
Barnes is currently on the shelf as he recovers from a left groin strain suffered while running the bases last weekend in the series finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The injury was not a major one but it still forced Barnes to land on the 10-day IL so he can focus on getting back to being 100 percent healthy.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he anticipated Barnes returning on the first day he was eligible to be activated. Though, the club was still cautious as it wasn’t until the middle of last week that Barnes resumed workouts.
He nonetheless has continued to progress well, and now will begin a rehab assignment with High-A Rancho Cucamonga before joining the Dodgers for their series with the San Francisco Giants, according to J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group:
Austin Barnes is playing rehab games with @RCQuakes Tuesday and Wednesday, Roberts said, and will be activated next Friday. Clayton Kershaw starts that game against the Giants.
— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) June 2, 2019
While getting their starting catcher back is obviously good news for the Dodgers, they have been able to manage just fine in Barnes’ absence.
The Dodgers called up one of their top prospects in Will Smith to replace Barnes and he has had some success in his first taste of big league action. Smith hit a walk-off home run to help defeat the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night, the first long ball of his career.
With how well Smith has fared, some speculated that he would stay on the roster even when Barnes returns as a third catcher. He also can play the infield, so he brings some versatility to the table. However, indications are that will not be the case.
Barnes was swinging the bat well before going down with the injury, hitting .438/.571/.563 with a pair of doubles and four RBI in his last five games. Overall in 40 games this season, the 29-year-old is batting .231/.345/.393 with four home runs and 15 RBI.