When the New York Yankees acquired Minnesota Twins catcher Ben Rortvedt, they knew he was dealing with an oblique injury that would keep them out for a few weeks. In the deal that sent Gary Sanchez West along with Gio Urshela, the team injected new shortstop talent into the roster. Isiah Kiner-Falefa will take over for Gleyber Torres, who will transition back to second base.
Despite acquiring Kiner-Falefa, the Yankees’ catcher position has come under question, especially with Kyle Higashioka being the only healthy starter on the roster. Higashioka is a phenomenal defensive catcher, but his offense lacks in some areas.
Last season, the 31-year-old recorded a .181 average with 10 homers and 29 RBIs. General manager Brian Cashman has strategized around the home run, but Higashioka’s batting average is far too low, requiring a significant increase this upcoming season.
The expectation is that the Yankees will deploy a platoon at catcher with Higgy and Rortvedt.
Having spent 39 games with the Twins last year, Rortvedt recorded a .169 average with three homers and seven RBIs. Despite being absolutely jacked, he’s not known for his power-hitting. He does host a phenomenal work ethic, making him prone to overworking himself, which led to his oblique injury. Luckily, things are trending in the right direction, with Opening Day quickly approaching on April 7.
“It’s going well,” Boone said of the catcher’s recovery. “I think it was a wise decision to back him off a little bit because we’re learning that he’s the type of guy that’s a go, go, go. I think when he did this, he probably overdid it a little bit to continue to aggravate it. So, in talking with him (Wednesday), I think we came to the realization that we’re glad we backed him off a little bit because he’s seen the progress he’s made now in the last five or six days.”
The Yankees do have a bit of veteran support, with Max McDowell and David Freitas offering experience.
“We’ll see. I think all of those guys are in the mix. We love what (Max) McDowell is behind the plate. (David) Freitas is in there with experience,” Boone said.