Sunday, February 15, 2015

Romine preparing to compete for Yankees' backup catcher job

When Francisco Cervelli went down with a hamstring injury last April, the Yankees somewhat surprisingly called up John Ryan Murphy to replace him.

At the time, it seemed Austin Romine was the favorite to temporarily become the Yankees' backup catcher -- given that he had more big-league experience as well as a reputation as a better power hitter.

But after Murphy batted .284/.318/.370 in 32 games, the decision to instead use him actually looked rather smart, and it's safe to say Murphy is now the more likely one to win the job. That's not something Romine is letting get to him, though, and the youngster says he's only been focusing on himself as he prepares for spring training.

"I want it," Romine told The New York Daily News earlier this week. "I want to go out there and prove to them that I want it. That's why I'm [at the Yankees' minor-league complex 10 days] early and I just want to hit the ground running and go after it."

Romine and Murphy are set to compete for the role next month  -- with the victor becoming Brian McCann's substitute. The duo -- 26 and 23, respectively -- is beginning to grow older, so it's possible whoever misses out on the big league squad will have lost the opportunity to permanently join it.

But that's not a concept with which Romine's necessarily unfamiliar -- seeing as he's been afflicted by multiple injuries over the last few years. 

"It's been rough for me, because I know what I can do and I want to prove that I can do it," Romine said. 

Romine missed most of the 2012 season with a pair of bulging discs in his back, and suffered a concussion in September 2013 when he was hit in the mask by a foul ball. He only had a couple of short stints in the majors last year -- eventually playing in just seven contests.

But Romine is determined to get past all of that, and to again prove his worth to the Yankees. 

"That's why I came her early, to show them I can still do this, that I can hit up here and that I'm still a good catcher," he said.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)