Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays catchers Casali, Maile deal with uncertain futures

PORT CHARLOTTE — The lockers for Curt Casali and Luke Maile are tucked in the back corner of the Rays' spring training clubhouse, out of sight to anyone who is not looking for the two catchers.

Along the wall to their right is the locker for Wilson Ramos, the free agent catcher signed in December to add offensive punch to the position.

In the corner to their left hangs a flat-screen TV, tuned Thursday morning to the MLB Network, which aired updates on free agent catcher Matt Wieters. The Rays made him an offer. If Wieters accepts, he will be their primary catcher, at least until Ramos returns from offseason knee surgery. The two would then form a platoon.

That leaves Casali and Maile where?

"I try to keep my head out of it as much as I can," Casali said. "I understand they may be looking for another guy. It doesn't change what I have to do. … I know it's a mundane and tedious thing to say, but I can't control it. I can't control any of it. I can only do what I do, and I feel good about that. Hopefully (the Rays) feel good about it, too."

Casali caught a team-high 62 games last season. Next was Hank Conger at 38. Maile caught 34. Bobby Wilson, who joined the team midseason and replaced Casali on the roster, caught 28.

Conger and Wilson are gone. Casali, 28, and Maile, 26, likely will break camp as the catchers, with one being the odd-man out when Ramos, 29, is activated from the disabled list and is ready to play behind the plate.

MORE FROM RAYS CAMP: Rays home in on bullpen help.

The addition of Wieters, 30, would mean one of those two would head to Triple-A Durham in April and the other would join him when Ramos is healthy enough to catch.

Oh, and there is also Jesus Sucre, a catcher with major-league experience acquired this month from the Mariners for cash.

"There are certain things in this game that you can control. That's not one of them," Maile said. "It's probably the farthest thing away from what you can control. It's not worth any time or energy."

Both catchers know they need to improve their offense. Casali's .186 batting average in 2016 was the second-lowest among major-league catchers. Maile hit .227 but needs to cut down on his strikeouts; he had 36 in 119 at-bats.

THE COMMISSIONER SPEAKS: Rob Manfred says changes to improve games' pace could be in place this year.

Both are known more for their defense. Rays pitchers compiled a 3.14 ERA with Maile behind the plate last year, the lowest among the four catchers. Casali threw out 30.6 percent of base stealers, the best on the team.

Casali believes he is an above-average major-league catcher when it comes to calling a game and playing defense.

"But the (batting) average is the thing that's dragging my name down," he said.

He knows he has to have more consistent at-bats. He believes he improved on that last season during his time at Durham. He also believes he put too much pressure on himself last year after making his first opening day roster.

Manager Kevin Cash, a former catcher who lived on the roster bubble during most of his big-league career, knows what Casali and Maile are going through as the Wieters reports persist.

"Sometimes you got to put the blinders on a little bit," he said. "Look, everybody in that clubhouse is thrilled about Wilson Ramos being in here, Curt also. I know he is. We talked about that. That being said, there's going to be opportunities for him and others to go out there and perform."

Right now, that's all Casali and Maile are focused on.

"I get it. We want to win," Casali said. "The team (stunk) last year, and part of that was because of me. I'm a piece of the puzzle, and obviously they want an upgrade on that. All I can do is keep showing I can play, believe in myself and hope for the best and be part of the upgrade."

Rays catchers Casali, Maile deal with uncertain futures 02/16/17 [Last modified: Friday, February 17, 2017 12:20am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays morning after: An up-and down day for Jose De Leon

    Blogs

    Rays RHP Jose De Leon had a busy Monday - getting called up to join the Rays for the first time and making his way from Pawtucket, R.I., to Boston and the flying to Texas, working 2 2/3 eventful innings to get the W in the 10-8 victory over the Rangers, and then getting optioned back to Triple-A.

    Jose De Leon follows through in the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, on May 29, 2017.
  2. Tiger Woods says medication, not alcohol, led to DUI arrest in Florida

    Public Safety

    Players arriving for a tournament this week at Muirfield Village might notice a framed picture of Tiger Woods with a resplendent smile and bright red shirt. He's posed there with the trophy, an image that embodies the excitement he once brought to golf.

    This image provided by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office on Monday, May 29, 2017, shows Tiger Woods. Police in Florida say Tiger Woods was been arrested for DUI.  [Palm Beach County Sheriff's office via AP]
  3. Four key games that could decide Bucs' success in 2017

    Blogs

    The Bucs finished so close to making the playoffs in 2016 -- literally flip-flop the last two results and have them beat the Saints and lose to the Panthers and they're in as a wild card with the same 9-7 record -- that it's difficult to say with any certainty what will happen in the 2017 season.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, shown celebrating a touchdown against the Giants in 2015, will face New York again this fall in Week 4 in Tampa.
  4. Frank Deford wrote with sincerity, giving depth to complicated sports figures

    Human Interest

    Frank Deford practically invented the notion of multimedia: He exported his voice to radio, TV and film, and if you didn't know him you might have thought he was an actor, because he wore purple suits and looked like Clark Gable. But Frank, who died Sunday at age 78, was a writer above all things, and an important …

    In a 1991 photo, Frank Deford holds a proof of The National Sports Daily, of which he was editor and publisher [Associated Press]
  5. Clarity coming this week on Florida Gators, Malik Zaire

    Blogs

    After months of speculation, we could finally get some clarity this week on the Florida Gators and graduate transfer quarterback Malik Zaire.

    SEC flags outside the hotel of last year's spring meetings in Destin. This year's meetings could have a huge impact on the Florida Gators' season.