It’s not often that a starting catcher’s first question in the clubhouse before a game is, “So, who’s pitching today?”
Yet, those were the first words Indians catcher Lou Marson asked Aeros manager Edwin Rodriguez when he arrived in the locker room at Canal Park about 2 p.m. Wednesday, excited to start his major-league rehab assignment.
Typically, a catcher of Marson’s status has spent plenty of time not only with the starting pitcher, but the relievers that make up the bullpen as well.
But when it comes to a rehab assignment at Double-A, a catcher’s lucky if he’s even met the young pitcher, let alone been versed in his repertoire on the mound.
If the lack of knowledge bothered Marson, it was hard to tell. An hour and a half before the game, Marson was making his way around the clubhouse, occasionally taking a sip of coffee from the paper cup in his left hand.
“I think I’m ready,” Marson said. “I feel good and I want to play a lot before they decide if I’m going back or whatever they ultimately decide. It feels like spring training all over again for me.”
That’s because the season was just a few days old when Marson was injured April 6 in a nasty home plate collision with Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Desmond Jennings and was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a neck strain.
When he was finally eligible to return, Marson made it just four days before being sidelined again. On April 28, he landed on the DL with right shoulder inflammation — which he said was a flare-up from an old injury.
“It’s just something I have to stay on top of,” he said, adding that his first injury kept him from working out the shoulder like he usually does to keep it in playing shape.
His teammates are nearly two months into the 2013 season, but Marson entered Wednesday night with just three major-league games (0-for-3 with two walks) under his belt and three more at the ?Triple-A level while rehabbing his first injury (1-for-8 with a walk and four strikeouts).
“In the big leagues I’ve only caught one and a half games,” he said. “I need some at-bats, but I’m more concerned with the catching part of it and getting back into a rhythm back there behind the plate.”
Whose pitches he was going to catch seemed of little consequence.
“Not only do we have a young pitching staff, but [Marson’s] going to be trying to guide a staff he doesn’t know,” Rodriguez said before the game. “He hasn’t even caught a bullpen with [Wednesday’s starter] Will Roberts.”
As far as catching went, Rodriguez figured Marson caught at least one break.
“We don’t have a pitcher who has a power pitch that he might have trouble handling,” Rodriguez said. “So that’s going to help. It’s pretty much just fastball and slider guys. No curveball or split-finger guys.”
Marson had never met Roberts until late Wednesday afternoon after he’d gone over a brief scouting report of the young right-hander with Aeros pitching coach Greg Hibbard.
But Marson didn’t miss a beat in his six innings of action, going 1-for-3 and making a defensive play at the plate.
In his first at-bat, Marson struck out looking. In his second plate appearance in the third inning, Marson singled.
Just before his final at-bat, Marson had the opportunity to execute a clean play at the plate when left fielder Quincy Latimore’s charging throw arrived in plenty of time for him to tag out Harrisburg Senators right fielder Steven Souza Jr. to end the fifth inning. In his final at-bat, he grounded out to the shortstop.
Marson has a scheduled day off today. If still feeling all right, he’s scheduled to join the Triple-A Columbus Clippers to continue his rehab.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Aeros blog at https://ohio.com/aeros. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/sports.abj.