Bucs' Jaramillo, Brown hoping to 'catch' on

Bucs' Jaramillo, Brown hoping to 'catch' on

Bucs' Jaramillo, Brown hoping to 'catch' on
BRADENTON, Fla. -- In one of the spring's more unusual competitions, catchers Jason Jaramillo and Dusty Brown continue to fight for a job that might not even be available.

The Pirates' decision on how many catchers to keep on the roster will ultimately determine whether Jaramillo or Brown have a shot at opening the season with the Major League club. It all hinges, too, on what role the Pirates feel suits Ryan Doumit the best.

If the club opts to slot Doumit into a traditional backup catching role, he will join Chris Snyder as one of two catchers on the team. Meanwhile, the Bucs continue to consider a scenario where the club carries a third catcher, so that manager Clint Hurdle can use Doumit more liberally as a pinch-hitter.

That's where Jaramillo or Brown would enter the picture, though both insist they are not paying too much attention to the possibilities currently being discussed.

"It's 100 percent out of my control at this point," Jaramillo said. "I have to go out there and show Clint and the rest of the coaching staff that I can play at this level. Then I just have to let the chips fall where they may."

"There are always things that are out of my control, but my job is to try and make their decision for them," added Brown. "All I can do is go out there and play and work hard and show what I can do. Hopefully, it will sway things in my favor."

Neither Brown, nor Jaramillo, is a stranger to entering camp without a guaranteed job. In fact, Brown left the Red Sox organization this winter after years of feeling like he was blocked from ever ascending to the Majors.

Brown, 28, spent parts of the last four years stuck in Triple-A, getting to the Majors for only 13 games.

"All I ever wanted was just a fair shot to make a team," Brown said. "I think I have that here. That's what reeled me in."

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Jaramillo has waited until the final week of Spring Training each of the last two years before being told he earned a spot on the Opening Day roster. In 2009, he beat out Robinzon Diaz to earn the backup job. Last year, Jaramillo got the nod over Erik Kratz.

Though Jaramillo is familiar with the anxiety of a spring competition, he entered camp this year with a renewed mindset on how to handle it.

"I really believe that I have to let things out of my control go, but that was really hard for me last year," Jaramillo said. "The last two years I've been really fighting and grinding tooth and nail. But with the situation I'm in, I really have to put less pressure on myself. Things will work out however they do."

Both Brown and Jaramillo know that an invitation to the big league roster would come with one caveat -- and that's that playing time would be limited. Doumit will get the majority of starts when Snyder sits, meaning that the third catcher would likely be called upon rarely.

For Jaramillo, the prospect of being in the Majors outweighs the scant playing time. Still, the 28-year-old catcher is going to have to find a way to keep himself better prepared to hit without consistent at-bats.

After playing fairly regularly in '09, Jaramillo appeared in only 33 games last season. He backed up Doumit for the first half of the season and then saw even those opportunities dry up once the Pirates acquired Snyder at the Trade Deadline. In 87 total at-bats, Jaramillo collected just 13 hits.

"Offensively, I just couldn't get in a rhythm," Jaramillo said. "For me, it was just tough to get into a groove. It's just a learning process for me. I want to show that I can play at this level and can have success at this level. I want them to be confident in me behind the plate. I just need an opportunity to get out there."

Brown's calling card isn't his offensive ability, either - he has a career .259 batting average in 701 Minor League games. But the fact that Brown has toiled in the Minors for 10 seasons is evidence of how unwilling he is to give up his desire to make a career with his defensive ability.

"It's the only thing I've ever done in my life. It's the only thing I've ever wanted to do," said Brown, who entered Monday's game 4-for-11 this spring. "I couldn't imagine doing anything else. Until they tell me I'm not allowed to play anymore, I'll be here."

There's the chance, of course, that after competing against one another all spring, Jaramillo and Brown will end up together, splitting time behind the plate in Triple-A. Another possible twist would arise if the Pirates trade Doumit before the start of the season.

Whatever the decision turns out to be, it's likely not to come into focus until the final days of Spring Training. Until then, Brown and Jaramillo can only work and wait.

"We keep trying to puzzle the bench together and figure out how they are all going to fit," general manager Neal Huntington said. "Jaramillo and Brown have done a nice job so far this spring. We haven't had anybody just step out and have an extraordinary spring, but they're doing a nice job so far."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.