Can unknown Hector Gimenez actually make the Dodgers' 25-man roster?
Nothing like that spring surprise, a player who seemingly falls from Asgard and suddenly starts thumping pitches around as if wielding the hammer of Thor.
They’re rare, and normally unreliable over the long haul, but tend to make things fun.
The Dodgers have just such a surprise this year in Hector Gimenez, a 28-year-old catcher with exactly two major-league at-bats who has absolutely no business making the Dodgers ponder an expected roster shuffle.
If still unlikely, it has become far from unthinkable.
Gimenez has bounced around the minors for 10 years, getting called up briefly by the Astros in September of 2006 before blowing his shoulder out the next spring and missing all of 2007.
The Astros waived him and he spent the past three years in the minors with Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh, last season playing for the Pirates’ double-A Altoona team.
The Dodgers signed him in November when they were almost without a catcher. Russell Martin was recovering from injury, and like Rod Barajas and Dioner Navarro, was unsigned.
The Dodgers not only signed Gimenez but put him on their 40-man roster. Yet after Barajas and Navarro were inked, and with A.J. Ellis in the wings, the Dodgers looked settled at catcher. Gimenez was seemingly forgotten.
Only Gimenez, a former third baseman, picked up a first baseman’s glove. If nothing else, he has been persistent.
He has struggled defensively at catcher this spring but continues to get long looks at first base. And he is hitting.
Gimenez is batting .345 and is tied with Matt Kemp this spring with three home runs and is second in RBIs with seven. Saturday he even stole a base. Yeah, it’s spring, but he’s getting noticed.
Now he has built a case for including him on the 25-man roster. A switch-hitter, he would be valuable off the bench. And he adds an extra catcher to the roster, who can also spell James Loney at first.
Trouble is, Gimenez is out of options, and like Xavier Paul would have to clear waivers to be sent back to the minors. Paul is homegrown and three years younger.
With right-hander Jon Garland injured and the Dodgers not needing a fifth starter to begin the season, a spot for an extra position player could be open to start the season. It’s assumed that would go to Paul.
But with Casey Blake and Jay Gibbons fighting injuries, another spot could open up. Gimenez likely would still have to beat out Aaron Miles or Juan Castro, but he’s put himself in the conversation.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Dodgers catcher Hector Gimenez singles during a game last month in Surprise, Ariz. Credit: Jake Roth / US Presswire