Luis Exposito learned that he was going to New York to join the Red Sox at approximately 2:00 in the afternoon, leaving the PawSox with one catcher – Michael McKenry – for tonight’s game against the Norfolk Tides.
The emergency catcher tonight is jack-of-all-trades Nate Spears.
(Photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
“I caught a little bit in Little League,” Spears said with a laugh. “I put the mitt away for a few years and I was asked to help out in the bullpen in 2008. We were running short on catchers so I caught about five bullpens that day. I felt pretty comfortable, but I never thought anything of it. Then today when I came into the clubhouse, Arnie said, ‘Hey man, we might need you. I want you to catch a couple of bullpens and see how comfortable you are.’ So I went down there and caught Millwood and Duckworth and got a pretty good workout in.”
Spears had the misfortune of getting this opportunity on a 98 degree day in Norfolk, VA. Before he could melt in the bullpen, he had to scrounge up some catcher’s equipment.
“The other team was fortunate enough to have an extra set of gear and they sent it over,” Spears said. “And Mike McKenry is awesome – he’s probably not the most happy guy to lend me a mitt since it’s soaking wet with sweat, but he’ll do anything to help the team.”
While some players would be upset to be asked to catch – even for a night – Spears says that he’s excited about it.
“It’s another tool that I can add to the belt,” Nate said. “The only positions that I haven’t played in a game are center field and catcher, so maybe it will happen. I think it would be fun. I don’t know if I could catch all nine innings, but maybe a couple of innings would be fun.”
Fun for Spears perhaps. But McKenry is under strict orders not to get ejected tonight.