Mariners Insider Blog

How many catchers will the Mariners carry - and will any of them be named Jamie Burke?

Jamie Burke has done the math.

The Seattle Mariners have too many catchers who either have promise (Rob Johnson, Adam Moore), are left-handed hitters with potential power (Jeff Clement) or are under contract for another three years (Kenji Johjima).

A career backup catcher, Burke has done that job – and done it well – for the past two seasons, batting .283 for the Mariners. He has a strong arm, calls a good game and, in a pinch, can pitch.

That may not be enough this year.

"I talked to (manager) Don Wakamatsu and he let me understand I'm going to get a lot of opportunity to catch in camp," Burke said. "Rob, Jeff and Joh – we're all going to be fighting for something. The World Baseball Classic probably means I'll get more playing time."

Yes, it does.

Johjima, coming off he worst season of his professional career, has chosen to play for Team Japan in the WBC. That means he won't report to Mariners spring training until Japan is eliminated or wins the tournament – which could mean he won't be in camp until the last week of March.

Still, Johjima is going to be on the opening day roster.

"How do I make the team? If they carry three catchers. That's it," Burke said. "If they go with two and Jeff hits, it's his job to lose. If they carry two catchers and Jeff DHs some, that's tough for a team – if both your catchers are playing, you're handcuffed a bit."

"Of course, if we go with three, it could be Rob and not me …"

Burke knew all this when he signed a split contract with the Mariners last month, a deal that paid him one salary if he makes the team, another if he plays in the minors. And if he plays in the minors, he has the option of leaving in June.

"A lot of teams contacted me after the Mariners let me go, but I know the new coaching staff here and I wanted to be here. I'm comfortable with the situation and the opportunity I'll get," Burke said.

"Heck, I've been blessed my whole life in baseball. I have to do what I've always done. If I just do that, stay consistent, I'll be all right. They make decisions, I just play. That's story of my career, and I'm still playing at 37."