Santos Shaking Off The Early Season Rust

Thought of as the best defensive catching prospect in the Yankee organization, Omir Santos spent the majority of his Spring Training with the big club learning from the likes of Jorge Posada, Kelly Stinnett, and Tony Pena.

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"I learned a lot and did a lot of work with Tony Pena and Jorge Posada in the spring," said Thunder catcher Omir Santos." Everyday I learned something new. It was a great spring for me learning wise."

Despite the fact he was given a great opportunity to learn from seasoned catchers, his lack of playing time in Spring Training (14 at-bats) is thought to be the main reason for his early slump at the plate. Omir is hitting a horrid .204 with three homeruns and twelve runs driven in.

"I caught a good amount of innings but I didn't get the opportunity to have enough at-bats to have my eye and timing down for the start of the season," said Santos. "It felt like the first month of the season in Trenton was my Spring Training."

Thunder Manager Bill Masse shares his starting catcher's belief that his lack of Spring Training is one of the main catalysts for his early season struggles.

"He struggled early due to the lack of at-bats he got playing with the Major League team in the spring. In the last few weeks he's started to look a lot better at the plate," said Masse. "He's not as bad as he was earlier in the year, but he's still nowhere near where I expect and need him to be."

As of late, Santos has been showing signs of life at the dish including a big 3 for 4 game against Eastern League Rival Portland (Double A affiliate Boston Red Sox) a couple of weeks ago, which fueled Trenton to a win. Since that time, he's racked up a couple of more multi-hit games.

"I'm getting better and better every game. I know I'm going to start to hitting, I just know it," said Santos. " Lately I've started to feel a lot more comfortable so hopefully the hits will start to come."

Santos's offensive production during his tenure in the Yankee organization has been mediocre at best, but there is no denying what he brings to the table defensively behind the plate. In his 36 starts behind the plate this season, he is errorless.

"He's as good as it gets defensively," said Masse. "I have no doubt that defensively he's Major League ready. If his bat can catch up, he's got a bright future."

"No matter how I'm performing at the plate, I never let it effect my defense. I know my defense is the best part of my game, so I try work on it and become a better catcher each and every day," said Santos.

Along with the normal catching duties of throwing out runners and blocking the plate, Santos enjoys the chess match between pitcher, catcher, and hitter.

"It's fun calling a game. I remember every pitch I've called to the hitter in his last at-bat. I try to use that knowledge to help my pitchers get the hitter out," concluded Santos.

Santos has been the primary backstop for a Trenton pitching staff that his been one of the best staffs in the Eastern League, compiling a combined 2.99 ERA.

"He's just a real good guy to have behind the plate when you're pitching," said reliever Jeff Kennard. "He calls a good game plus he has such a good arm you can concentrate on the hitter and let Omir take care of the runners."

When it comes to Omir Santos and his future, it may just be a question of is his defense worth his lack of offensive production.

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