Catching of the Guard: Brewers go From Veteran to Rookie

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On Wednesday, the Milwaukee Brewers announced Gregg Zaun’s season would officially end, as the veteran catcher opted for surgery on his right shoulder to fix a torn labrum. George Kotteras says he feels for Zaun and what could be a career-ending injury. But Kotteras is now focused on reporting to almost daily play.

“I’m certainly excited to go out there and it’s just what you do in this situation,” says Kotteras. “I’m never happy when a teammate is injured and you certainly feel for him. We’ll just be ready to work for the team.”

The Milwaukee Brewers’ catching staff has gone from veteran Gregg Zaun most days to Kottaras, who caught a mere 25 games in the majors prior to this season and rookie Jonathan Lucroy at your service.

By: Melissa S. Wollering


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Working behind the plate for multiple pitchers, Kotteras says he is learning how to approach each starting pitcher, what each pitcher’s personality on the mound is and how the game will unfold.

“It’s funny, every one of them is different,” says Kotteras. “Each day I work to make sure I’m fully prepared and I know how they’re feeling that day. If things change, we just communicate.”

For perhaps the first time, Kotteras must focus on keeping himself healthy as he transitions to the primary catcher role. Brevard County’s Angel Salome recently asked to be moved to the outfield, citing he is no longer comfortable behind the plate. He did not take the field Wednesday night, but has played right field once since coming back to the game, having taken some personal time away.

With Kotteras typically working four days and Jonathan Lucroy the fifth (including Wednesday’s game), neither catcher can be spared.

“I’m eating healthy, trying to take rest when I need it. I realize I have to go out there every day now and so I’ll do everything I can to stay healthy and then just enjoy going out there. Jonathan, he’s doing a great job and he’s excited, too.”

In addition to getting it done behind the plate, Kotteras is getting it done AT the plate. In a little over 100 plate appearances, he has drawn the walk about one-quarter of the time. Although rare, breaking a 100-walk season isn’t entirely impossible for the catcher. That milestone has been met by 16 full-time catchers in MLB history.

“I’m not looking for the walk when I get to the plate, I’m not going up there thinking that,” says Kotteras, smiling (as much as George smiles). “But I try to be patient and sometimes I get lucky. You eye the ball the best you can. Yeah, it’s going well up there.”

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