BOSTON -- Two weeks after announcing that Kelly Shoppach would not catch much for the remainder of the season, Rays manager Joe Maddon allowed that he has changed that stance.
Throughout the course of the Red Sox series, Rays catchers John Jaso and Jose Lobaton have struggled both offensively and defensively. Hoping to correct the problems behind the plate, Shoppach started Sunday and he will be used more for the remainder of the season, according to Maddon.
"We had brought up Loby and Jaso had been playing more and part of that we thought possibly offensively we would get a little more out of those two guys," Maddon said. "Again, it's not been a lot of at-bats for Lobaton nor has Jaso had a ton overall. But right now, one of the biggest reasons we win games is because we play great defense. So I chose to go with Shoppach today. Although with Wakefield it was an easier get because Wakefield versus righties, the numbers are more in our favor putting a righty in there as opposed to a lefty. So that was easy today.
"But moving forward, we'll see how this all works out because we cannot sacrifice behind the plate if in fact we're not going to pick it up at the plate."
Maddon was asked if he was disappointed in Jaso's play this season.
"It's not been his better year," Maddon said. "Last year he started to do some things really well, both offensively and defensively. My god, he was our leadoff hitter and really did a great job with that. He was on base a lot -- great baserunning. All of that. I thought his defense had gotten a lot better, too. But he has struggled a little bit more this year on both ends, offensively and defensively. We've got to work hard to get all of that back. He's been doing his work, we do talk to him, etc. But for whatever reason, it's just not at the same caliber it was last year at the same time."
Could Jaso lose the confidence of the pitching staff, particularly in his ability to block pitches in the dirt?
"He had a couple of tough games here, but he's been blocking pretty good overall," Maddon said. "I can't dispute his blocking. He's actually done a pretty good job with that. The biggest difference has been his throwing. Shoppach has a real edge on throwing. Lobaton hasn't really been tested. But Shoppach has really thrown well this year."
Shoppach has thrown out 15 of 37 attempted base stealers. Jaso has thrown out two of the last 19 attempted base stealers since June 18 and 8-for-58 (13.8 percent) this season, which ranks as the second-lowest percentage among qualifying Major League catchers.