The Rays are just a few days in to spring training, but already manager Joe Maddon likes what he sees in new catcher Ryan Hanigan.
"Talked to Ryan yesterday for five minutes," said Maddon. "Thought I had known him for the last ten years".
Communication and relationships are huge in the Rays scheme, and Hanigan and Maddon are already finishing each other's sentences.
The Rays traded for Hanigan in December.
The former Rollins College catcher spent the previous 7 seasons with the Cincinnati
Reds, where he averaged around 70 games a year.
Look for that number to rise substantially as the Rays have only Hanigan and Jose Molina on the Major League roster.
Molina will turn 39 this season.
The catching position is by far the most physically demanding on the diamond, so even your regular guy may play fewer than 120 games behind the plate.
Players that can remain durable and productive are, according to Maddon, "a dying breed."
The Baltimore Orioles Matt Wieters led all major league catchers in games played last season with 140.
That is tough to do Maddon said.
"That doesn't really happen anywhere anymore. That's a position that it's difficult to find someone who's good and durable at the same time. It's very demanding both physically and mentally so when you get a guy like that ,they are few and far between. That's a nice animal to have,"said Maddon.
So has Maddon told Hanigan he's that kind of animal?
"Oh no, not yet," said Hanigan. "I mean that's the managers preference. I'll be ready to play every day and whatever he wants to do, that's his call."
Hanigan does have the skill both behind the plate and at the plate (he has more walks than strikeouts in his career) to be the guy Joe Maddon puts down as his regular catcher on the line-up card.
Today and tomorrow.
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