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Clippers discover depth at catcher

The catcher position is the most grueling position in baseball. Spending nine innings every game crouched in a catcher’s stance, wearing knee, shin and chest protectors, a protective helmet and a face mask in the heat and humidity of the summer can wear a player down.

Occasionally, the Columbus Clippers need to give their starting catcher and top prospect Carlos Santana a day of rest. Backup Damaso Espino has shown to be a valuable asset to the Clippers in these situations.

On April 21, Santana was injured when he fouled a ball off of his right knee. While the injury was not considered serious, he was taken out of the game and listed as day-to-day.

Espino has provided stability at the catcher position when Santana is out of the lineup.

Espino has played in eight games for the Clippers this season and has a .227 batting average. Despite his struggles at the plate, his defensive abilities have been impressive.

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“My job is to help out the pitchers as much as I can,” Espino said. “That’s my job on this team and that’s what I’m going to do as a backup catcher. Defense has to be my top priority and after that, I want to have good at-bats, put the ball in play and hope for the best result.”

In Sunday’s loss against the Toledo Mud Hens, Espino had one hit in three at-bats, with an RBI single. He provided stability from behind the plate as he caught nine innings from Hector Rondon, Steven Wright and Frank Herrmann. Espino threw out Casper Wells in the fourth inning on the only attempted steal of the day by the Mud Hens.

Clippers manager Mike Sarbaugh commented on Espino’s value to the club.

“He really works well with the pitching staff, and he’s had some big hits for us early in this year,” Sarbaugh said. “He’s a hard worker and a great guy to have in the clubhouse.”

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