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Trio of catchers may soon become duo

Trio of catchers may soon become duo

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Blue Jays started the season with three catchers on their 25-man roster, but that's not necessarily going to be the case for long.

Toronto has right-hander Casey Janssen and shortstop Jose Reyes on the 15-day disabled list and when either of those players return, it will prompt some changes. One possibility is returning to an eight-man bullpen while another would see the Blue Jays stick with a more versatile defender off the bench.

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The main reason catcher Erik Kratz was a late addition to the roster when Janssen went down was it gave the club an additional right-handed bat off the bench. That's the priority for now, but it might not continue much longer.

"I think it's fair to say, ideally, we wouldn't carry three," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "It's really game to game right now.

"We've had dialogue, but when some of these guys start coming back from the DL whether it's Janssen, [J.A.] Happ, Reyes, knock on wood, none of these guys are expected to be long, so we'll have some moves to make and there will be changes."

Dioner Navarro is the starting catcher, but a case could be made that Kratz should be the primary backup over Josh Thole. Kratz has 19 home runs and a .699 OPS in 379 career at-bats while Thole has a .645 OPS and eight home runs in 1,038 at-bats.

Kratz is the one with a bit more power, but for now the Blue Jays are sticking with Thole, the backstop they think will work best with knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Anthopoulos also defended Thole's offensive abilities by pointing to 2011, when he hit .268 with a .345 on-base percentage in 114 games.

"The thing is, Josh has had some offensive success," Anthopoulos said. "I know he didn't have it last year and the second half of the year in 2012 with the Mets. But in the past, he has been a .700 OPS guy, he can draw some walks, low strikeout rate, he can put the ball in play, he can grind out some at-bats and that's what we talked to him about. He doesn't need to come out and hit .300 or hit 20 home runs, just have quality at-bats."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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