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Catching depth bolstered as Bucs sign Shoppach

Catching depth bolstered as Bucs sign Shoppach

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Catching depth bolstered as Bucs sign Shoppach

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates general manager Neal Huntington has been actively seeking a veteran backup catcher since Michael McKenry was lost for the season with a knee injury, and he found his man Monday: The Bucs signed Kelly Shoppach, the 33-year-old backstop who has been through four organizations in the last two years but still has power at the plate and an arm behind it.

Shoppach was assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis, but the plan clearly is to add him to the Major League roster no later than when it expands on Sept. 1.

Shoppach has not played since his July 31 release by the Nationals, after 10 games with their Triple-A affiliate. Once he gets back into playing shape, he may get the call even before Sept. 1. Other than injury exceptions, players must be on the active roster on Aug. 31 for postseason eligibility, and the Pirates may prefer Shoppach to rookie Tony Sanchez behind Russell Martin if they enter the playoffs.

Shoppach hit .196 in 35 games with Seattle prior to his release by the Mariners on June 20. Signed by the Nationals, he hit .219 for their Syracuse farm team; that line included going 5-for-12 against left-handed pitching.

In 2012, Shoppach saw action with both the Red Sox and the Mets. Originally a second-round Boston pick in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, Shoppach has a lifetime caught-stealing percentage of 30, and he has gone 11-for-29 (.379) with two home runs as a pinch-hitter.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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