For only the third time in the month of July, Arizona Diamondbacks manager penciled catcher Wil Nieves into the starting lineup Tuesday night.
Nieves, who is batting .351 with 13 RBI, has appeared in only 32 games this season — the result of playing behind former All-Star Miguel Montero.
Before the D-backs’ game against the Chicago Cubs, Gibson acknowledged that while Nieves has performed admirably in a limited role, he understands that the role of a backup catcher is by no means an easy one.
“It’s hard, but you enjoy it though,” Gibson said. “But [bullpen coach] Glenn Sherlock keeps them ready. They’re blocking all of the time. They throw to bases all of the time.
“Miggy and Wil talk constantly on the bench before [Miggy] goes to the bullpen. He watches the games. He’s a veteran guy.”
A veteran indeed.
Nieves, who beat out Rod Barajas for the backup catcher spot in spring training, has played parts of 10 seasons with six different teams (Brewers, D-backs, Nationals, Padres, Rockies, and Yankees).
Yet, despite well-exceeding his career averages (.239 batting average and nine RBI) this season, getting time on the field has been a struggle to say the least for the 35-year-old journeyman.
It’s a trend Gibson hopes to buck from time-to-time in an effort to keep Montero fresh down the stretch.
“[Montero] has been beaten up,” said Gibson. “We’re going to get Wil in there. He hasn’t caught a ton, and I’m going to try and get him in there occasionally, maybe more than I have in this stretch we’ve gone through.”
If Nieves is used on a slightly more consistent basis, it might not be the worst thing for the D-backs’ offense. Despite only having 74 at-bats in 2013, Nieves has seven multi-hit games and two four-hit performances.