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Could Federowicz be next season's main catcher? Seems a reach.

September 16, 2011 |  6:35 am

Fed_240 Twelve games left and so many decisions to make about young players and next season.

Can Dee Gordon be the everyday shortstop? Is Jerry Sands ready to be a major league starter and, if so, at what position?

And what about catcher?

Do they bring back 36-year-old Rod Barajas and pair him with A.J. Ellis? Is Ellis, at age 30, ready to stick and play regularly? Do they actually try to sign someone else after the Dioner Navarro fiasco?

Then there is the young Tim Federowicz, the prospect acquired in the trade of outfielder Trayvon Robinson on July 31.

Federowicz made his first major league start Thursday night against the Pirates, and collected his first hit with a single in the fifth inning. Also, he was hit by a pitch for the first time. And walked for the first time. If nothing else, he currently has an impressive .600 on-base percentage.

"Not bad," said Manager Don Mattingly. "Had some good at-bats. He handled himself back there and blocked some balls. He looked all right."

Not exactly effusive praise, but it was one night. Which also included a passed ball.

The 5-foot-10, 200-pound Federowicz said he was initially nervous Thursday, but by the end of the first inning it had passed. It has been a remarkable couple of months for Federowicz, who back in July was playing double-A ball in the Red Sox organization and blocked by their top hitting prospect, Ryan Lavarnway. At least until the trade.

"At first I really didn’t know what to think about it," Federowicz said. "It was exciting to learn I was going another level up. But the Red Sox treated me well. I had a lot of friends, and that was probably the toughest part, leaving guys I came up with through the organization. But I’m in a better place with a lot better opportunity here."

General Manager Ned Colletti said the Dodgers had no bright, young catching prospect. Federowicz, 24, was deemed an answer.

Now how quickly can he be a major league catcher? The need is immediate, but he’s only spent a month of ball at triple-A Albuquerque, where he hit .325 with six homers and 17 RBIs.

"He’s like a lot of young guys, you have to ease him in there and let him play," Mattingly said.

"We have to let him grow up, see what things he can do. He’ll let you know. We’ll see how he handles things the rest of the way and where we’re at."

Mattingly is going to be careful not to throw too much, too soon at Federowicz. He won’t catch Hiroki Kuroda and his six different pitches Friday, but figures to start more frequently the last two weeks.

Right now, it still seems a reach to think he could be the team’s main catcher next season, at least at the start. Which is not to say he won’t try to win the spot next spring.

"That’s hard to say," Federowicz said. There are a lot of things that could go down that could work into that," he said. "You never know what’s going to happen, if they’re going to sign a guy or re-sign Rod [Barajas]. There are a lot of things that have to align for me to make the team next year.

"Hopefully it happens, but I’m not going to go in there looking for that. I’m going to go in there and try to learn my staff again and learn the team, and put together a good spring, and hopefully I could break in."


Dodgers-Pirates box score

Hiroki Kuroda has MRI on next, will start Friday

Dodgers ask whether ownership is affecting season-ticket renewal

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Ross Ohlendorf, center, leaves the batter's box on a three-run home run as Dodgers starting pitcher Dana Eveland, left, and catcher Tim Federowicz look on during the second inning on Sept. 15. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press.