After years of showing ineptitude against upper-level pitching, Jesus Sucre was banished to another season of organizational catching depth for the Mariners. Things started out inauspiciously, as he broke his leg during the offseason and underwent surgery that held him out for much of the 2016 campaign. Once he recovered and began his tenure with Triple-A Tacoma, the 28-year-old showed some signs of life by batting .273 while striking out just 14.4 percent of the time, although these improvements are mostly nullified given that he's older than many of the players still in the minor leagues. He got a few at-bats in the major leagues and held his own surprisingly well, going 12-for-25 with two doubles and a home run. This production was likely just an anomaly given his ridiculously high .579 BABIP. With the Mariners trading him to the Rays over the offseason, Sucre appears to be destined for an organizational depth role with Curt Casali and Luke Maile competing for playing time until Wilson Ramos is ready for action.
Sucre went 1-for-4 with an RBI single in Sunday's 6-4 loss to the Astros. The Rays' reserve backstop has made good use of his sporadic starts, contributing hits in four of the six he's seen thus far. They've nearly all been timely as well, as Sucre has five RBI on five hits in his 20 at-bats this season. Already lauded for his defensive skills, the 28-year-old could potentially eat into Derek Norris' playing time if the latter is unable to snap out of the offensive doldrums he's found himself in over his first 55 plate appearances (.173/.200/.192 with one extra-base hit and no homers).
Sucre went 1-for-2 with an RBI single and a walk in Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Yankees. Sucre is rightfully lauded for his defensive skills and ability to manage a pitching staff, but he's been an asset with the bat as well. The 28-year-old backstop has received limited opportunities (nine at-bats over three games), but he's managed to hit safely in two of those contests, including a three-RBI day on April 9 versus the Blue Jays. While Derek Norris continues to receive the majority of starts, Sucre figures to see playing time every few games, as has been the norm thus far.
Sucre will start behind the plate and bat ninth in Thursday's game against the Blue Jays, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Bay Times reports. After giving way to Derek Norris for the Rays' first three games of the season, Sucre will take over behind the dish with Blake Snell toeing the mound. He'll likely head back to the bench for Friday's contest.
The Rays selected Sucre's contract Saturday and added him to the 40-man roster, MLB.com reports. Sucre beat out Luke Maile and Curt Casali for backup catching duties in spring training, and it's likely that he'll remain with the Rays until Wilson Ramos (knee) is deemed healthy enough to resume duties behind the dish. A light-hitting catcher regarded mainly for his skills as a receiver, Sucre should see a couple starts a week behind No. 1 option Derek Norris.
Sucre was informed Wednesday that he will make the Opening Day roster, the Tampa Bay Times reports. The Rays chose Sucre, a non-roster invitee, as the backup catcher over Curt Casali and Luke Maile, both of whom are already on the 40-man roster. Sucre didn't exactly swing his way onto the big-league team -- he's gone just 6-for-26 with six strikeouts this spring -- but the team has liked what he's shown behind the plate in terms of receiving and game-calling skills.
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