CLEARWATER, Fla. — Humberto Quintero was twice released in the span of 22 days last July. First, when Kansas City designated him for assignment, the Phillies called Quintero right away. He instead signed with the Marlins.
His stint there lasted 10 days before being released. The Phillies called again, and they called a couple of times. Quintero landed in Milwaukee — well, actually, triple-A Nashville. The 33-year-old did not play a major-league game after June 23.
His chances of making the Phillies this spring are quite good.
"They want me," Quintero said. "They like me. They want me here and that's why I signed."
Quintero has no delusions; the Phillies need a second catcher for 25 games while Carlos Ruiz serves his suspension. Erik Kratz is the starter. Barring injury, Quintero provides depth with a likely ticket to the waiver wire come late April.
The 10-year veteran is fine with that. It's life as a backup catcher.
"I have a lot of experience," Quintero said. "I've been playing in the big leagues for a long time. I know the National League very well because I played for the Astros for seven years. I know the teams. I think my experience can help the team."
His priority this spring is to learn the Phillies pitching staff. The team will have him catch as many different pitchers as possible in workouts and games. Quintero has picked Ruiz's brain and is usually attached at the hip to Kratz.
Quintero has a reputation in baseball circles as an above-average defender. It's what has kept him on major-league rosters despite a career .590 OPS. The Phillies would rather have him, and not one of the many young catchers in camp, serve as insurance for the season's first month.
To compensate for a lack of work in 2012, Quintero went home to Venezuela and played in 26 winter ball games. He hit .333 with an .818 OPS in 81 at-bats.
"I have a lot of work to do first," Quintero said. "I don't know if I'll make the team or not. But I'm ready."
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