PHOENIX — Miguel Montero is used to playing every day and likes it, but that is expected to change over the final seven weeks of the season as the Diamondbacks take a longer look at Tuffy Gosewisch.
The move will save wear-and-tear on Montero, who already passed St. Louis’ Yadier Molina and Baltimore’s Matt Weiters for the most innings caught in the major leagues since 2011. It is more a chance to evaluate Gosewisch, who has shown well in limited time.
"There is no reason to push him at this point," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said of Montero. "Tuffy has done a great job when I’ve played him. I think he has earned a little more playing time. See what he is capable with more opportunities."
Montero is on board, if not ecstatic. He had his second consecutive off day Sunday, a season first, and given Monday’s travel day will have his first three-day break since he was sidelined by a back injury last August.
"Obviously I have personal goals as well that I would like to accomplish, RBI, homers," Montero said. "The only way to do it is playing. But I respect the decision. Let’s see how long it lasts."
Montero is having a bounce-back season after being slowed by the back injury late last year, and with 12 home runs and 62 RBI is on pace to threaten his career highs in both categories. He had 18 homers in 2011 and 88 RBIs in 2012, the year he signed his five-year, $60 million contract extension. Montero will finish with 16 homers and 85 RBI if he continues at his current pace.
"I would love to go on top of that," Montero said of his RBI mark.
Montero is never afraid to lobby for playing time, but he said that does not apply as much at this point of a season in which the D-backs are not contending — another likely factor in the D-backs’ decision to limit him somewhat.
"It’s a different situation now," Montero said. "We are so far behind. We are pretty much not competing for anything. They want to play Tuffy, they play Tuffy a little bit more. He deserves to play a little bit more."
At the same time, Montero does not see extra time off as a career-extending device, although he admitted it might be the right think to do.
"You have to live today, and then you find out what you are going to do tomorrow," Montero said. "You don’t know what tomorrow is going to be. That’s probably an excuse, saving him for next year. I don’t believe that" it is necessary.
Gosewisch has 12 hits and is hitting .279 in his last 13 games, and he threw out the last four runners attempting to steal on him. He has caught Trevor Cahill’s last two starts, both quality starts, and the two have made effective use of his change-up.
A longer evaluation of Gosewisch makes sense, and should help the D-backs sort through the pecking order behind Montero moving forward. The D-backs acquired power-hitting catcher Peter O’Brien from the New York Yankees in the July 31 trading deadline deal for third baseman Martin Prado, and 2012 No. 1 draft choice Stryker Trahan has recently returned to catching after spending the first four months of the season in right field, although he remains in the lower minors.
While some scouts are not convinced O’Brien’s future is behind the plate, his bat appears to be close to major league-ready. The D-backs have used O’Brien as a catcher at Double-A Mobile and plan to keep him at the position, but there would always be room on one of the outfield corners for a player of his power. O’Brien has 34 homers this year, one in his first four games at Mobile.
"I’ve watched Tuffy all year," Gibson said. "He’s played sporadically, and he’s done a great job of staying ready. Now that he’s played more, he’s done the same thing. I think he has gained a lot of confidence. I think he has always had confidence in his qame-calling.
"It’s funny how people label you, ‘Oh, he’s a great catch-and-throw guy.’ He has put a lot of work in with Turner (Ward, hitting coach) and (coach) Hank Blanco in the batting cage. He’s swing the bat pretty good as well. It is kind of an emerging situation."
Gosewisch would like nothing more than to show that stereotype does not apply.
"I’ve definitely been labeled a defensive guy. I don’t want to be labeled a backup catcher by any means," Gosewisch said. "Maybe some time in the future I get a chance to start. We have a great starting catcher here and he’s doing an awesome job.
"I know my role now is backup catcher, and I’m fine with that. But you never want to be pigeon-holed into one thing. Hopefully somebody can see that. I want to play more, obviously. But if I’m not in the lineup, I am going to get better somehow. I’ll try to get as many at-bats as possible, catch some guys, and try to win some ball games."
Mark Trumbo has pretty much used the whole field the last two days. Trumbo went oppo in the first inning Sunday, inside-outing a fastball for a two-run double down the right field line. His homer Saturday was to due left. Trumbo has nine RBI in his last six games, has reached base safely in his last 10, and has 13 hits in his last 38 at-bats.
22 — homers allowed by Wade Miley, tied for second in the NL.
Evan Marshall has not allowed any of his 15 inherited runners to score this season, the latest when he left one man on Friday. Gregg Olson is the only D-backs’ reliever to go a full season without allowing an inherited runner to score, when he stranded 16 in 1998 when he went from setup man to closer. Since 2010, only three major league relievers have not allowed an inherited runner to score — Miami RHP Brian Sanches (19), Colorado LHP Josh Outman (19) and Mets RHP David Aardsma (19).