Downs prepares for role as emergency catcher

Downs prepares for role as emergency catcher

Downs prepares for role as emergency catcher
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Don't expect to see Matt Downs penciled in the lineup to start at catcher any time soon, but the versatile infielder is adding catching to his resume. Downs caught Brandon Lyon in the bullpen Thursday to get some experience in case manager Brad Mills turns to him in an emergency situation.

"He's going to be our third catcher, like he was last year," Mills said. "One of his strengths is all the positions he plays and still be able to do them well. I'm just trying to keep that door open. That's a huge plus for us to be able for to play those positions like he does."

Downs, who led the Majors in pinch-hit RBIs last year with 15, has played all four infield positions in the Majors, as well as making three starts in right field. Downs has never caught a game in professional baseball, but he's willing to do whatever it takes to improve his chances of making the team.

"Brandon Lyon took it easy on me," he said. "It wasn't like he was throwing overly nasty stuff that day. It's not going to be a situation where I get in there and start a game or call a game. If two guys were to go down, they have the comfort of knowing they have somebody who could knock the ball down back there."