Padres stay active, land another catcher

By Jim Callis

July 30, 2005

For the second time in three days, the Padres picked up a catcher to tide them over until Ramon Hernandez recovers from a left wrist injury. San Diego acquired Miguel Olivo from Seattle for two minor leaguers, catcher Miguel Ojeda and righthander Nathanel Mateo.

The Mariners got the 27-year-old Olivo in the June 2004 Freddy Garcia trade, hoping he could become their starting catcher. But Olivo never hit for Seattle, including a .151/.172/.276 performance with five homers and 18 RBIs in 54 games this year. He has fine tools for a catcher, including power, good speed for his position and a very strong arm. But he’s erratic at the plate, as his plate discipline has disappeared in the majors, and behind it as well. The Mariners even sent Olivo to Triple-A Tacoma for a month this year in hopes of getting him going, but that didn’t work either. He now becomes part of San Diego’s catching mix with Robert Fick and recent acquisition David Ross. Olivo likely will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after the season. He’s a career .218/.265/.375 hitter with 25 homers and 90 RBIs in 270 games.

Ojeda, 30, has slipped markedly at the plate after two solid seasons as a backup for San Diego. Ojeda had established himself as a decent hitter for average and power, but this year he batted just .137/.232/.205 with six RBIs in 73 at-bats before the Padres demoted him to Triple-A Portland in early July—and he struggled mightily there as well. He doesn’t have a strong arm and has failed to throw out a big league basestealer in nine attempts this year. The Mariners, who have a muddled catching situation after losing Dan Wilson to a knee injury and dealing Olivo, initially plan on keeping Ojeda on their active big league roster. He’ll compete for playing time against Yorvit Torrealba, who joined Seattle in Saturday’s Randy Winn trade with San Francisco, and Wiki Gonzalez. Olivo has hit .224/.308/.359 with 12 homers and 54 RBIs in 166 big league games.

Mateo, 25, signed with the Phillies in 1998 out of the Dominican Republic. He spent one year in Philadelphia’s system before being released, and then spent time in the minors with Japan’s Hiroshima Carp before signing with the Padres in 2003. He has a low-90s fastball, and this year he has made improvements with his curveball. Mateo was 3-4, 3.08 with one save in 48 games at Double-A Mobile this year. He had a 39-15 strikeout-walk ratio in 53 innings, while opponents hit .275 with two homers against him.