San Diego Padres: Bethancourt’s Versatility Gaining National Attention
The San Diego Padres have a gem in pitcher, catcher, and outfielder Christian Bethancourt, a player who is beginning to draw attention due to his versatility.
It is a “little league mentality” according to manager Andy Green. Christian Bethancourt, a catcher, pitcher, and outfielder for the San Diego Padres, is getting noticed by many baseball fans.
At 25 years old, the unique player fits perfectly into a young San Diego team which is very malleable. With the ability to play three different positions, Bethancourt is ready to embrace his role, no matter what it ends up being.
During 2014 and 2015 with the Atlanta Braves, Bethancourt played only the catcher position. While his stats didn’t make a position change necessary, the Panama native broadened his horizons in 2016 when he came to San Diego in a December 2015 trade.
Thus far with the Padres, Bethancourt has still played the majority of his starts at the catcher position, including 35 last season. However, the 25-year-old also started three games in left field, four in right, played in one game at second base, and even appeared in a game as a pitcher.
Fans are expecting much of the same from their backup catcher in 2017, but it appears that he will pitch much more. While his role is still up in the air, manager Andy Green has made it clear that whatever role Bethancourt plays will be the role which he is best suited to help the team win in.
And Bethancourt doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, he embraces this role, telling the media:
"When I was in Little League I was the team’s shortstop, the catcher, the right fielder, the pitcher when needed. I’ve always had that in me. I like to play. This is what I’ve done since I was 5 years old, so it’s something I’ve always enjoyed."
Now, with such a unique player, even the Padres are getting national attention. Fans and analysts all over are recognizing Bethancourt’s special versatility. Even the USA Today published a piece on the unprecedented nature of Bethancourt’s abilities.
As just a career .223 hitter, there is room for improvement in parts of Bethancourt’s game. He is expected to compete with fellow backup catcher Luis Torrens during spring training to be second to new starter 24-year-old Austin Hedges.
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But there is no telling what else Bethancourt could do. He could play in the outfield, pitch, or even fill in at an infield position. There is a lot of uncertainty entering 2017, but this doesn’t concern Bethancourt. And it sure is nice for the Padres to have a player who can do literally anything, and do it gladly.