By Evan Brunell
Josh Thole kicked off the season with a nice start, collecting seven hits in 19 at-bats after finally winnng the Mets' full-time catching job at age 24.
Since then, Thole has entered a slump of staggering proportions, hitting .172/.245/.204 after the nice start. Thole isn't known for his power, but he still has registered just one extra-base hit in his last 17 games. Even Ronny Cedeno can do better than that. It's shocking that it's taken this long for New York to make a change, but finally, word comes that Thole is no longer the starting catcher, according to MLB.com.
He'll still have plenty of starts as the Mets will go to a platoon role with Ronny Paulino, who was already gathering plenty of at-bats against left-handers. Paulino will now receive a string of consecutive starts, allowing Thole time to clear his head and work on getting back on track.
"Josh is still going to play," manager Terry Collins said of the change. "He's still going to get a number of at-bats. I just want to make sure we try to keep them both as sharp as possible."Paulino has already been increasingly taking time away from Thole, hitting against lefties and catching Mike Pelfrey's starts. But now, Paulino will catch at least the series opening up Tuesday against the Cubs.
Thole still is consdiered as as the Mets' long-term catcher -- someone who can hit .300 perennially. He delivered a .321 batting average in 17 games back in 2009, and was raking at a .303 clip over his first 55 games last season before falling to .277 at the season's conclusion. At this point, the book is pretty solid on Thole, so he's got to find away to adjust to the pitcher's adjustments.
"The one thing we have to do is be patient because this guy can hit," Collins said. "And he's going to hit. Right now, I just want to give him a chance to work on some things. We've got another guy we think is going to hit, too."
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