John Buck #4 of the Seattle Mariners is on the wrong side of the net to catch this foul pop-up off the bat of Jed Lowrie #8 of the Oakland Athletics (not pictured) in the bottom of the fifth inning during game two of a doubleheader at O.co Coliseum on May 7, 2014 in Oakland, California. The Athletics won the game 2-0. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
by Curtis Crabtree
SAFECO FIELD - The Seattle Mariners made a bit of a surprise roster decision after Monday night's 2-0 win over the Minnesota Twins when they elected to designate backup catcher John Buck for assignment.
Buck had appeared in 27 games for the Mariners this season with 19 games coming at catcher and eight at designated hitter. Buck was batting .226 for the season with one home run and six RBI before the Mariners made the decision to move on Monday night.
A corresponding roster move is scheduled to be made on Tuesday, but manager Lloyd McClendon hinted strongly at what the move would be after the game.
"Listen, these things are never fun," McClendon said. "John Buck is a fine baseball player and I think he has been great for this club and a wonderful individual. We’ve got a catcher in Triple-A who is turning the corner and doing a pretty darn good job. We will announce that tomorrow, but we just felt it was time so we think this move makes us a better club."
That Triple-A catcher McClendon referenced is likely Jesus Sucre.
In 48 games this year for Tacoma, Sucre has batted .274 with two home runs and 16 RBI. He's also considered a strong defensive catcher, which is an area Buck seemed to struggle in at times.
Over the first 89 games of the season, Mike Zunino has been behind the plate for 70 of those games. While he is still a young player, that workload could begin to wear down Zunino over the second half of the season. If the team wasn't comfortable enough with Buck's defensive abilities to put him behind the plate more frequently, the decision to bring up Sucre begins to make more sense.
Sucre appeared in eight games for the Mariners last season, batting .192 with three RBI before getting injured and landing on the disabled list. When he became healthy again, he was optioned back to Triple-A Tacoma.