Despite his struggles, Thole is unlikely to be demoted as long as R.A. Dickey remains on the roster, Baseball Prospectus reports. Many in Toronto's fanbase have called for an upgrade at the backup spot to Russell Martin. But even with Dickey having had his typically putrid April, the knuckleballer is unlikely to go anywhere -- meaning Thole isn't going anywhere either. The 29-year-old should be deployed merely as a punt-play when Dickey is on the hill.
After the game, Thole took responsibility for Wednesday's walk-off loss to the Orioles that ended on a pass ball in extra innings, MLB.com reports. The passed ball came with Rule 5 pick Joe Biagini on the mound for Toronto. He went out of his way to protect the young reliever by taking responsibility for getting crossed up. It was a frustrating end to an otherwise solid game from the backup catcher who only plays when R.A. Dickey gets the start.
Manager John Gibbons said Thole will catch most of R.A. Dickey's starts this season, CBC Sports reports. The 29-year-old catcher has been with the Blue Jays since 2013, but has never played more than 57 games in a year -- he only played 18 in 2015 due to injuries and a backlog at the position. However, because of his ability to catch Dickey's knuckleball, and the rest needed by 33-year-old Russell Martin, Thole may be in line for an increased workload this season. He may be worth a look in daily leagues due to the fact he'll be part of the most potent offense in baseball.
Thole is in the lineup against the Rays on Monday. This is a very interesting move, as Thole has historically received very few at-bats against left-handed pitchers such as Drew Smyly, the Rays' starter for Monday's game. However, this is likely just a day off for everyday catcher Russell Martin, so Thole will probably head back to the bench after today's start.
Thole re-signed with the Blue Jays on a one-year, $800,000 deal Friday, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reports. Thole had just been non-tendered by the Blue Jays on Thursday, but he's coming back to the team after being a free agent for just a day. The 29-year-old had a disappointing campaign last season, hitting just .204/.250/.245, but he should get the chance to earn the backup role behind Russell Martin out of spring training.
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