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A’s facing a dilemma with catchers this spring

MESA, Ariz. — A competition is brewing at the A’s catcher position this spring.
Chris Herrmann was signed in December as a left-handed hitting catcher who was expected to serve as a complement to right-handed hitting Josh Phegley in a platoon role. But the arrival of another right-handed hitting catcher in Nick Hundley on a minor league deal just as the A’s broke camp is complicating things.

“We do like the platoon situation. It’s why we signed him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Herrmann. “Things change along the way in spring, but we brought him in to give him a pretty good opportunity.”
The A’s desire to keep the platoon situation available leaves Phegley and Hundley locked in a battle. Melvin did not rule out the possibility of beginning the season with three catchers. The A’s will be allowed to keep 28 players on the active roster instead of the usual 25 for their two regular season games in Japan next month. But Melvin also noted the club only went with two catchers in their last trip to Japan back in 2012.
Phegley, 31, served as the back-up to Jonathan Lucroy for most of the second half last year following the demotion of Bruce Maxwell. He hit .204 with two home runs and 15 RBIs in his limited role last season. But Phegley’s value came more on the defensive side as he threw out seven of 20 runners and worked well with some of the A’s pitchers who were also teammates with him in the minors.
Phegley has no more minor league options this year. If he does not make the club out of spring, the A’s risk losing him through waivers.
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“He does a great job behind the plate with throwing and blocking and all the intangible stuff,” Melvin said. “You look at the games he played last year, we won a lot of those games. It’s a similar position he’s been in.”
Hundley, 35, brings experience as an 11-year big league veteran who spent the last two seasons with the Giants as Buster Posey’s primary back-up. He’s a career .248 hitter and has always had some pop in his bat with 91 career home runs, including 10 in 282 at-bats last season.
“He’s a guy we had been talking about for a little while,” Melvin said after Hundley’s signing was made official. “He’s one of those quarterbacks on the field and I think he’s a big pick up for us.”
Phegley started at catcher in Thursday’s rain-shortened Cactus League opener and Herrmann started Friday’s game against the Mariners behind the plate.
“We truly have three guys we like,” Melvin said. “I don’t know that we start with three. Chances are we go with two.”
— Veteran right-handed starter Marco Estrada threw a simulated game at A’s minor league camp Friday in order to get his regular work in.
— Chris Bassitt will start Saturday’s game against the White Sox. Blake Treinen, Lou Trivino, Fernando Rodney, Yusmeiro Petit, Tanner Anderson, and Parker Bridwell are among the pitchers also expected to appear at some point in that game.

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