Tatum wasn’t supposed to beat out Chad Moeller last spring for the backup job behind starting catcher Matt Wieters, but he did it. And that explains why Tatum hasn’t grown too comfortable despite being the incumbent.
Tatum’s stiffest challenge comes from Jake Fox, who also can play the corner infield positions and left field. If it only took versatility to make the team, Tatum would be packing his bags for Triple-A Norfolk.
“I guess you can’t really be too comfortable when you’re not (Matt) Wieters,” Tatum said. “I haven’t been told anything, so I just come in here and work my butt off like I did last year, and hopefully I make the team. Me and Foxy have been told ... they keep saying it’s between me and him, but he plays every position, so he can make it as a utility guy and a backup catcher. Me, I’m the backup catcher or I’m going somewhere else. But I guess you’ve just got to not think about it.
“Last year, I didn’t’ think I had a shot at making the team, and then I made the team, so that’s why I’d never come in here and feel comfortable and think it’s my job. I guess it would be my job to lose because I had it last year, but other than that, no, I’ve got to come in here and work my butt off, and hopefully impress them the way I did last year.”
Tatum and Fox have become good friends, so it’s far from a heated rivalry.
“I want him to make the team,” Tatum said.
They could co-exist if Fox is kept as the second utility infielder and third catcher.
Showalter remains highly impressed with Jake Arrieta, who would have to completely fall apart this spring to not stay in the rotation. He mentioned Arrieta’s “professional confidence” earlier today.
“It seems like he’s comfortable in his skin,” Showalter said. “I think he’s got a healthy respect for what he’s going to be asked to do.”
Brandon Snyder said he felt “a lot better” catching today’s bullpen sessions.
Troy Patton accidentally crossed him up with one pitch, signaling that he was going to throw a slider and a changeup. Snyder tried to guess where the ball was going, and Patton apologized for the mix-up afterward while they shook hands.
Luke Scott is expected to be the regular left fielder, but Showalter also views him as a backup at first base, so the manager will take that into account when deciding which reserves to keep.