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Breaking the mold? Tim Federowicz could be Dodgers backup catcher

October 10, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Tim Federowicz reacts to an inside pitch during an at-bat for the Dodgers earlier this month.
Tim Federowicz reacts to an inside pitch during an at-bat for the Dodgers… (Harry How / Getty Images )

Is there a pattern about to be broken? These things can be so hard to do.

General Manager Ned Colletti just loves his journeymen backup catchers – Dioner Navarro, Brad Ausmus, Gary Bennett, Rod Barajas, Mike Lieberthal, Sandy Alomar, and of course, Matt Treanor.

Like it’s a requirement. Something to cross off his annual winter check list. It’s understandable, really. A team needs a dependable, veteran catcher it can count on to put behind the plate once a week or so, and feel confident the staff is in capable hands.

Only next season, there could be a change in this thinking. Next season Colletti is thinking of using Tim Federowicz as the backup to catcher A.J. Ellis.

Federowicz was the key player the Dodgers acquired at the trade deadline in 2011 – back when they were deadline sellers – for Trayvon Robinson. At that time, he was the No.2 catcher in the Red Sox system and had never played above double-A.

He finished 2011 with the Dodgers’ triple-A Isotopes, appeared briefly in September with the Dodgers and then spent all of last season with the Isotopes, before again getting a late call-up. At Albuquerque he caught 115 games, batting .294, with 11 homers, 76 RBI and a .371 on-base percentage. Not spectacular, but very solid.

“We have much more confidence in him than we did a year ago,” Colletti said. “Not that we didn’t a year ago, but his experience is vastly greater.

“When we acquired him, he had not played triple-A baseball. He’s farther along in his career and we’ve noticed a change. Even though he didn’t play much this month, we noticed a change.”

With the Dodgers in a pennant run, A.J. Ellis entrenched as the everyday starter and Treanor on board as the backup, Federowicz’s only 2012 start was the final game of the season.

The Dodgers could bring 36-year-old Treanor back, and have a $950,000 option on him for 2013. But although he brought the required veteran backup presence and was a solid clubhouse presence, the career .221 hitter batted a career-low .175.

Pretty sure Federowicz could bring more offense, and the Dodgers seem pleased with his defensive development.

The 25-year-old Federowicz is still unproven at the major-league level, and using him as a backup would be a break with Colletti tradition. But these are different times for the Dodgers, and patterns are being shattered.

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