The Yankees barely gave Austin Romine a look in spring training -- the 24-year-old catcher got into just eight preseason games, mostly late, and had only nine at-bats, with two singles.
But starting Saturday, he is their No. 2 catcher, because of the broken hand suffered by Francisco Cervelli suffered during the first at-bat of Friday night's game against the Blue Jays. And according to Joe Girardi, Romine is not just here to fill a roster spot.
“He’s going to catch some," Girardi said. "I’ll look at it every day, but you’ve got to see how Austin does when we put him in this situation. How he does will probably depend on how much we use him.”
Chris Stewart, who had been relegated to the backup role when Cervelli got off to a strong start this season, moves up to No. 1 and will be behind the plate on Saturday, catching CC Sabathia. But Girardi would not rule out the possibility of Romine catching as many games behind Stewart as Stewart did behind Cervelli -- about two games per week -- or even possibly assuming the role of No. 1 catcher.
“Depends on how he performs," Girardi said. "One thing about our job -- most jobs -- it’s performance-based."
Romine was performing well at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; in 14 games, he was hitting .333 with a home run and four RBIs. Still, he is considered mainly a defensive catcher whose development was set back by an injury-riddled 2012 season when he missed lots of time because of a disk problem in his lower back.
"I always had a positive outlook," Romine said. "I knew I was going to get back. Once I saw some doctors and they said we could fix it without surgery, that really put my hopes up high. It really took a lot of hard work to get back to playing."
Romine was playing Friday night when he was waved into the dugout in the third inning of the game. "I was like, 'I’m not coming out, I didn’t do anything wrong,'" Romine said. "Then (manager Dave) Miley told me pack your stuff, you’re going up. That’s really all I heard until I was done packing and heard exactly what happened."
Romine got into nine games as a September call-up in 2011, but really hasn't caught any of the Yankees' starters with the exception of David Phelps, who is replacing the injured Ivan Nova in the rotation for the next 15 days at least. To help Romine familiarize himself with the staff, Girardi had him catch both Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte in the bullpen before Saturday's game.
"I’m just trying to get to know these guys a little bit more, trying to get on the same page so that if I get in a game I know what they like to do," Romine said. "It’s a little different, but it’s still the same in one sense -- that I’m here to do one job, and that’s win games. I’m looking forward to getting with the pitchers, getting that relationship going again, and catching some of the guys I haven’t caught before. I’m real excited to be here and help this team win."
QUESTION: Would you like to see Austin Romine as the Yankees' everyday catcher while Cervelli is out?