TAMPA, Fla. -- Gustavo Molina's chances of beginning the season as the Yankees' backup catcher have increased, and the team is strongly considering carrying the 29-year-old as Russell Martin's understudy.
Prospects Jesus Montero and Austin Romine captured most of the attention this spring as the Yankees look for a fill-in for the injured Francisco Cervelli, but Molina's previous big league experience is earning points.
"We've given the young kids a lot of looks and we're giving Molina some looks now too, so that we know we feel like we're making the right decision," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Molina was tapped to catch Freddy Garcia's Minor League start on Thursday, an assignment that was originally scheduled to go to Montero. The Yankees wanted another opportunity to see Molina instead.
2010 Spring Training - null
Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
Not related to the Molina catching trio of Bengie, Jose and Yadier, Molina has appeared in 23 Major League games in 2007, '08 and '10 with the White Sox, Orioles, Mets and Red Sox, batting .122 (5-for-41) with no homers and an RBI.
Last season, he was 1-for-7 (.143) in a Red Sox uniform. However, the Yankees have said that they will weigh defense much more heavily than offense; Molina has only one hit in 13 at-bats this spring (.077).
There was thought when Cervelli suffered a broken left foot in early March that the backup job could be Montero's to lose, and he did receive more at-bats than either Molina or Romine.
But the Yankees believe Montero -- batting .222 (8-for-36) entering play Friday -- started to press and it affected his defense, which continues to be organizationally rated behind Romine's.
"Part of it can be pressing, there's no doubt," Girardi said. "I don't know how, as a young kid, you don't get excited about the possibility of making a club for the first time in your life."
Girardi also suggested on Friday that taking either Montero or Romine as a backup for a month might stunt their development, instead of permitting them to play regularly at Triple-A and Double-A, respectively.
"That's a decision that we have to make -- or do you want to go with a veteran guy that has caught in the big leagues and knows how to do it?" Girardi said.