Manny Pina broke into the majors last season for the first time since 2012 after the Brewers traded away Jonathan Lucroy, giving him a backup role behind Martin Maldonado. That call-up rewarded four years of patience after his last ride with the Royals, one that saw him outrighted from Kansas City and later traded twice, the latter landing him in Milwaukee as a player to be named in the Francisco Rodriguez trade. Between those major league stints, Pina turned into a minor league masher. His .329/.371/.506 line at Triple-A Colorado Springs in 2016 made him a Pacific Coast League All-Star, so it might not be too crazy to think he's a late bloomer at age 29. Of course, Colorado Springs helps make plenty of bats look better than they are. Still, his .254/.346/.394 line in the majors was also decent for a catcher, though in a very limited sample of 81 plate appearances. Jett Bandy and Andrew Susac sit ahead of him on the depth chart entering spring training, so Pina will likely open the year back at Triple-A.
Pina has made the Brewers' Opening Day roster, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports. The 29-year-old boasts a .405/.421/.757 line through his first 38 spring plate appearances. Pina, who's out of options, might be in the lead for Milwaukee's backstop work, considering he appears to have clinched a spot before Jett Bandy and Andrew Susac, whose trapezius injury may eliminate him altogether. Still, Pina probably be involved in a near split duty with whichever one of the alternatives isn't sent to Triple-A Colorado Springs or elsewhere. Two-catcher fantasy players could get some use out of Pina, especially if his power boost turns out to be real, but likely will find his contributions fleeting.
Pina went 9-for-17 (.529) with three home runs, two doubles, and eight RBI over his last five spring games and now owns a 1.178 OPS during the exhibition season. Pina was seemingly a distant third in the competition for the Brewers' starting catcher spot entering spring training, but he has hit the ball far better than either of his counterparts -- Jett Bandy and Andrew Susac -- and has given himself a chance to snag the job. It's still unclear who will open the regular season as the top backstop, but at the least, Pina looks like a good bet to open the season on the major league roster while one of his fellow catchers heads to Triple-A in order to get regular at-bats.
Pina is 5-for-18 (.278) with two doubles and three RBI through eight spring games. Pina is competing against Jett Bandy and Andrew Susac this spring to earn a spot on the Brewers' Opening Day roster. It's unlikely that Pina will open the year as the team's top catcher with the Brewers likely to turn to one of the other two players -- both are younger and have more upside -- but he did post a respectable .740 OPS over 33 major league games last season, which could allow him to snag the backup job with the big club while one of the other two catchers heads to Triple-A to see regular at-bats.
Pina is not with the team due to the birth of his child, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Pina has performed well since joining the Brewers in August, but he'll be away from the team for a few days to be with his family. It's unclear how soon he'll be back in action, but Martin Maldonado, Andrew Susac, and recently called-up backstop Josmil Pinto will fill in behind the plate until he's ready to return.
Pina is starting at catcher Sunday for the second time in three days. Pina has posted an impressive .318/.464/.500 slash line since joining the Brewers on Aug 1., and he is starting to cut into the playing time of fellow catcher Martin Maldonado, who has struggled to get things going with the bat. The two figure to continue sharing the catching duties for the Brewers in some capacity moving forward.