Connect with us


Pirates Manager Derek Shelton Notes Progress With Henry Davis but Remains Non-Committal



Henry Davis, Pittsburgh Pirates

BRADENTON, Fla. — The vibes were flying as high as the Florida sun as the Pittsburgh Pirates opened up their 2024 spring training at Pirate City on Wednesday.

One of the bigger storylines to follow is how the Pirates will fill the void left by a season-ending injury to projected starting catcher Endy Rodríguez. 2021 first-overall pick Henry Davis is certainly under consideration.

Despite being drafted as a catcher and working his way through the minor leagues behind the plate, Davis caught just two innings in the big leagues last season.

The Pirates wanted Davis to continue to refine his defensive abilities after his promotion last year. With an entire offseason to focus on defense, manager Derek Shelton said Davis has shown improvement.

“He’s gotten better. I think that’s the one thing,” said Shelton. “The one challenge that we gave to Henry at the end of the year last year was we said, ‘Hey, you’re gonna come into camp, you’re gonna catch.’ I think he’s taken that full throttle. He’s been down here, he’s been working. He and (third base coach Mike Rabelo) have been working together. Very pleased with the progress he’s made.”

In addition to Davis, the Pirates have three other catchers currently on their 40-man roster. Jason Delay is back after playing in 70 games last year. Ali Sánchez was signed to a split-contract earlier in the winter and Yasmani Grandal officially signed with Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

The addition of Grandal adds an even more compelling element into the equation, especially after what Shelton said in his first spring training media session.

“Just adds to our depth. It’s a position that we liked to get a veteran guy in there, so we know Yaz is gonna catch and then we’re gonna have competition for that other spot,” Shelton said. “Grandal’s gonna catch. Then in that second spot, we’re gonna have a competition,” he later reiterated.

With Shelton’s vote of confidence in Grandal and a competition for the second catcher spot on the opening day roster, it begs the question how confident the Pirates are in Davis behind the plate, even with his noted improvement.

While Davis possesses the highest profile of the remaining three backstops, a case can be made for either Delay or Sánchez to earn the job, at least initially.

Delay was a solid defender for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season and essentially became the personal catcher of staff ace Mitch Keller down the stretch. Sánchez, meanwhile, is out of minor league options and would be taken off the 40-man roster if he doesn’t break camp with the team.

Competition, even if it puts his status in jeopardy for the time being, is still something Davis embraces.

“Competition, it’s good for everybody,” he said. “It’s going to make us all better. It’s going to make us a better team at the end of the day.”

For Grandal, his addition not only provides the Pirates with an established option behind the plate, but a mentor for an otherwise youthful position group.

“I’ve had my career, and those guys are just getting started. If I can help them in any way, that’s No. 1,” Grandal said. “Everything else is about trying to win and helping them do a good job behind the plate whenever I’m not there. The catching group is one of the most important groups on a team, so anything I can do for them to help them develop and become their own, I’ll gladly do it.”

Once the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Grapefruit League schedule begins on Feb. 24, Davis will have to prove he’s capable of handling a much larger workload over the course of a full season.

If not, starting the year in Triple-A Indianapolis to fine-tune his skills certainly looks to be in play.

Subscribe Today!

Subscribe today!

PBN in your Inbox

Enter your email address to get all of our posts sent directly to your inbox.

Copyright © 2024 National Hockey Now. All rights reserved. In no way endorsed by the Pittsburgh Pirates or Major League Baseball.

Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (PA/IL) or 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN only) or 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA only) or 1-800-522-4700 (CO Only) or TN REDLINE: 800-889-9789.