Duncan's genes make him emergency catcher option

Duncan's genes make him emergency catcher option

ST. PETERSBURG -- When Joe Maddon elected to pinch-hit for Jose Lobaton, Ryan Roberts and Sean Rodriguez in Wednesday night's 8-7 win, he left the catching duties to Jose Molina, who essentially worked the remainder of the game without a safety net.

Had the veteran backstop suffered an injury, the Rays would have been left without an emergency catcher since Roberts and Rodriguez fill that slot. So what would Maddon have done? The Rays skipper didn't miss a beat when asked that question: Shelley Duncan.

"His dad [Dave Duncan] was a catcher, so I'm sure he can catch if necessary," Maddon said. "I would bet he would have said yes, even if he'd never done it before. I think Shelley could do it through the gene pool."

There is always a lot of talk about who would be a team's catcher in the event of an emergency, but rarely is an emergency catcher used. Maddon noted that he has seen it happen, and "I've seen it lose a game."

Rockies catcher Jeff Reed left a June 8, 1998, game against Maddon and the Angels after suffering a gash on his cheek during a home-plate collision with Dave Hollins. Left without a backup, Rockies manager Don Baylor turned to infielder Neifi Perez to catch.

Perez had not caught in a game since Little League, but he got behind the plate anyway. It ultimately cost the Rockies the game, as the Angels scored the decisive run in a 6-5 game on a passed ball.

"It's a horrible, uncomfortable moment," Maddon said. "But again, the alternative is to just go ahead and lose the game. And you never know if you get to that moment, you have to make selfish choices. You never know."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.