John Baker is trying to improve his work behind the plate.
John Baker didn't have to break into any offices and skim through his personnel file to find out why his professional career had stalled.
"The knock on me in the past had always been the defensive side," he said. "So not being a Hanley Ramirez kind of an athlete, I spent a lot of time working on it in the offseason."
Johnny Boy, you really didn't have to implicitly bring up Hanley's defensive short comings to make your point.
But Baker is getting better behind the plate.
"I think the pitchers trust him with what he's doing back there," said Scott Olsen after Baker caught him Saturday. "He does a great job receiving the ball and calling a game, moving in and out and keeping the hitters off balance. Trust is one of the biggest things from pitcher to catcher. I have trust in him right now already and he's only caught me twice."
This is good news that Olsen thinks he is improving. In the first game Baker caught for Olsen, Scott thought he was "jittery".
Baker has been quieter when catching and he is moving better, though that moving thing still needs a little work and his throwing needs to improve. But in his defense, he was catching in Albuquerque where breaking balls don't explode like they do in Florida. Also, if the pitchers will help out on holding runners close, they won't, and he can get more accurate on his throws, his caught stealing percentage should increase, but it will never be stellar.
The really nice thing is Treanor has been trying to help him out.
Baker is especially complimentary of sidelined starter Matt Treanor for all he's done to to make sure his replacement is prepared. Treanor not only goes over scouting reports and pitcher nuances, he throws Baker and Paul Hoover balls in the dirt during batting practice.
"We're not in competition for a position at all," Baker said. "He's our guy with the Marlins, but I don't think many guys would do the stuff he does with us. I have nothing but respect for him."
As it stands right now, Baker is competing for the Marlins backup position at catcher once Treanor returns. Seeing how there aren't a ton of games left in the season and the pitching staff is about to add some arms that Baker has never caught before, if he stays up, he will finish out the season in major league catching school. And that ain't a bad thing.