06/12/2007 9:43 AM ET
Phillips: Four catchers may be a first
"Catchers as a whole are a pretty tight group," says Jason Phillips. (Kathy Willens/AP)
We currently have four catchers on our roster -- myself, Gregg Zaun, Sal Fasano and Curtis Thigpen. Some teams carry three catchers, but I can't ever recall a big-league roster that lists four guys as catchers. Catching is the natural position for each of us, so this is a little strange.
Zaun and Fasano are solely catchers, but I've played a lot of first base and Thigpen played a lot of first base growing up. With the injury to Lyle Overbay, we can mix in one of us at first base, especially if the other team starts a lefty.
Catchers as a whole are a pretty tight group. You spend a lot of time together in the bullpen during Spring Training and doing drills. Nobody else on the team really understands what goes on back there. It's sort of like being a lineman in football. Nobody notices until that guy gives up a sack. If you catch a great game, it can go unnoticed. Catchers really pull for each other.
There can also be a great deal of competition in this position, but by the time you get to this level, your role is pretty defined and you know what the club expects of you. When you're in the Minors, it's more competitive. Up here, it's more about concentrating on the role you have.
Thigpen is a young player who's getting his feet wet. He has a lot of upside. He's a prospect and the club has invested in him. When a team does that, they're going to give the player an opportunity. You can play in Spring Training, but understanding this (regular season) atmosphere, which can include a hostile environment and 50,000 people, requires a little more adjustment.
Zaun is coming off a hand injury and is trying to get back into the mix. He's trying to regain his arm strength and get himself back to where he can physically catch. Zaun is real intense, a gamer. He's the classic example of a catcher who can control a game even if he has a bad day at the plate. He knows that you win with pitching and defense. He's also good at making pitchers feel comfortable out there.
Fasano is really good at handling pitchers overall, and you can't put a price tag on his experience. He and Zaun have a lot of years in the big leagues and they've been on a lot of teams. They know about pitchers in both leagues and that's especially important during this stretch of Interleague Play.
Blue Jays backstop Jason Phillips has played in more than 450 career games for three teams. His best season at the plate came in 2003 with the Mets when he batted .298 with 11 home runs and 58 RBIs.