Remaining fans of the Miami Marlins will not be pleased with the opener in Jupiter this spring. Despite an 8-3 victory over the Cardinals, the only long-term repercussions on Saturday equaled bad news for Miami.
Backup, veteran catcher, Jeff Mathis, suffered a non-displace fracture to his collar bone on a foul tip from Matt Holliday. Now he is projected to miss around six weeks, which extends about a week into the regular season.
The Marlins, who traded their starting catcher, John Buck, from 2012, along with all of their higher paid players over the past year, will rely on 24 year old, Rob Brantly as the starting catcher come April. Brantly had 100 at bats with the Marlins last season, when he was called up last August. Mathis was acquired in the trade with the Blue Jays and was expected to backup and mentor Brantly at a position already thin from an organizational standpoint for the Marlins.
Now the backup catcher is likely to be Kyle Skipworth, the only other catcher listed on the 40 man roster. Skipworth, like most Marlins, is extremely young and at age 23, has yet to play above AA. However, the back stop has been in AA the past two years and while he had had virtually no success hitting, should have no problem filling in as a backup for a couple of weeks in the regular season until Mathis returns fully healed.
Jake Jeffries, Wilfredo Gimenez, and JT Realmuto are the three other catchers in camp this spring and all of them could figure to compete with Skipworth. However, the Marlins are not quick to grant 40 man roster spots and are even slower to starting player clocks by giving them MLB time, so it’s unlikely any of the three of them spend time on the big league club just to replace a backup catcher for a couple of weeks.