Chris Herrmann gives the Arizona Diamondbacks several options.
There’s a new term floating around major league baseball these days, and Chris Herrmann of the Arizona Diamondbacks fits that description. A catcher by trade, Herrmann’s ability to play several positions probably classifies him now as a hybrid player.
Around the game, several players are easing into that role. One, in particular, Christian Bethancourt of the San Diego Padres, will try his hand at pitching this spring in addition to the main responsibility of catching.
In Herrmann’s case, his left-handed bat makes the native of Tomball, Tex. more valuable than another role player. With experience in the infield, outfielder, particularly in center field, and behind the plate, Herrmann gives manager Torey Lovullo several options.
“Whatever they want me to do, I’ll be ready,” Herrmann said in the Salt River clubhouse. “I can start, come off the bench, whatever the situation. I’d like to open some eyes and get their attention.”
Herrmann did just that last spring.
Secured in a trade with the Minnesota Twins, Herrmann was brought in to back up Welington Castillo but suffered a setback in spring training. An injured hip placed the 29-year-old out of the lineup for two critical weeks in March. Nonetheless, he managed to make then-manager Chip Hale’s 25-man, opening day roster.
“I was surprised to make the team, to be honest with you,” he said. “I guess the fact that I can play several positions made me important to this team.”
In parts of four previous seasons with the Twins, Herrmann hit a collective .181 in 142 major league games. Still, his left-handed bat and versatility made Herrmann attractive.
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Appearing in 56 games for Arizona in 2016, Herrmann hit .284, but essentially spent the second half of the season on the disabled list. Out between July 17 and Sept. 6 with a strained right hamstring, Herrmann’s season ended on Sept. 13 when he underwent surgery to repair two broken metacarpals in his left hand.
Still, he managed to start 29 games behind the plate, three in left field, two in right field and one in center. In the process, Herrmann set career highs in several offensive areas, including batting average, runs (21), hits (42), triples (four), home runs (six), RBIs (28) and four stolen bases.
“We’re looking at him as catcher, first and foremost,” Lovullo said. “I can’t predict how many games each catcher will start. That’s impossible for me to do right now. I do love his versatility, and his ability to move around comfortably. His ability to execute plays and perform defensively is a great luxury for a manager. I want to tap into that as much as I can.”
Lovullo makes this promise, “you’ll see (Herrmann) pop up in many places and working on different things through spring training.”
For now, Herrmann is getting his reps at catcher, and that’s by design. The Diamondbacks want to chart his progress and see where his ability fits in with newly acquired Jeff Mathis and Chris Iannetta.
Above all, Herrmann could be the ideal player for a double switch. His ability to fill gaps in many areas on the baseball diamond gives Lovullo options which other managers may not have.