Stop me if you’ve heard this one … Colorado Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta will get his chance to be the team’s starter behind the plate. When Colorado traded Miguel Olivo to the Toronto Blue Jays, that left Iannetta as the Rockies lone remaining veteran catcher remaining on the staff. This is not the first time Iannetta has come into the season with the starting job on his plate.
In 2007, Iannetta was meant to be the guy before being supplanted by Yorvit Torrealba. The same happened in 2009. In 2010, Iannetta was once again the intended starter before Olivo became the everyday backstop early in the season. For the first month of the season, Iannetta hit just .133 and had only 2 RBI. In fact, for almost all of May the Rockies sent Iannetta back to Colorado Springs for a short stint in the minors.
Upon his return, the 5th year catcher split time behind the plate with Miguel Olivo. He started 12 games in June, 9 in July, 15 in August and 15 more in September and October. By the end of the season, Iannetta had started 61 games, the fewest in his career since becoming a full time major-leaguer. He also finished with his lowest career batting average at .197 and despite being projected as a hard-hitting catcher, managed just 9 home runs.
The numbers beg the question: why would the Rockies get rid of Olivo, who hit .269 with 14 home runs, in favor of Chris Iannetta? That is a question that will only be fully answered on the field. Iannetta did improve as the season went on. He hit .273 in July, and .233 in September. He also proved himself to be a strong team player when late in the season when called upon, he took turns at third base and became one of manager Jim Tracy’s “go-to” pinch-hitters.
The fate of the Rockies catching staff will likely go whichever direction Chris Iannetta goes this season. If he plays like the hard-hitting, strong-armed backstop he is supposed to be, he will keep the job and thrive. If, however, he reverts to the role he has so often in his career, one of backup catcher and occasional power-hitter, he may once again find himself backing up a new member of the Rockies roster. They just haven’t brought in that player yet.
– By Brett Heinzerling, CBS4 Sports Producer