TORONTO — Reese McGuire isn’t supposed to hit for power.
It’s not discouraged by any means, but the reality is that the Toronto Blue Jays’ backup catcher was slugging .366 in Triple-A when he was called to the big leagues. Last season he slugged .339 at the same level.
McGuire does a lot of things well, but generally speaking clearing the wall isn’t one of them. This year he hit five homers in 277 trips to the plate in the minors. Since joining the Blue Jays on July 27th, he’s gone yard four times in 52 tries.
Strangely, this is a pattern the 24-year-old exhibited last year when he hit two home runs and slugged .581 in a 14-game stint in the bigs.
There’s a narrative to be milked here about McGuire rising to the occasion or feeling comfortable at the MLB level. Even so, it’s awfully hard to imagine there’s any substance to that. It is fun, however - and fun was in short supply for the Blue Jays on Friday, even on Star Wars night.
In fact, McGuire’s home run in the seventh was perhaps the club’s biggest bright spot in a grim 7-4 loss to the Houston Astros, helping them re-ignite an offence that had been dead all night long. The catcher got a first-pitch fastball right down the middle from reliever Hector Rondon, and he did not miss it.
It was part of a strong day overall for the young catcher who provided three of the team’s eight hits.
“Reese is doing a great job,” manager Charlie Montoyo said. “I really like what he’s doing behind the plate and at the plate. He’s looking good to me. He’s doing a good job from what I’ve seen. He’s got power too, sneaky power.”
He also pushed across the Blue Jays’ first run via the rarely-seen bases-loaded catcher interference.
Before his home run, it looked like Toronto’s only run might come due to an accidental and incidental collision between his bat and the glove of Astros catcher Robinson Chirinos.
“I haven’t had that happen probably since Little League,” he said. “As soon as it happened I also got a piece of the ball and something didn’t seem right immediately I just pointed. When I went back and watched the video my reaction was a lot quicker than I thought it was. I thought I took a second to think ‘wait I hit the glove’ but it was pretty instant. Right away I knew it.”
Anyone who’s expecting a McGuire offensive breakout in earnest is ignoring a long glove-first minor-league track record. It’s not impossible, though. It probably isn’t even much stranger than a bases-loaded catcher’s interference.
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