Brewers: Could Pedro Severino Return to Play First Base?
By Matt Carroll
It’s been a little over two months, with 67 games played in that time, since the Milwaukee Brewers began their 2022 season. That’s been long enough to forget the mess the team found themselves in regarding their catching situation just two days before Opening Day.
Last offseason, the Brewers addressed their backup catching position by signing former Orioles backstop Pedro Severino to a one-year deal. He was to take over for Manny Pina, who left in free agency, and form a new catching platoon along with the team’s main starting catcher, Omar Narvaez.
Severino looked very solid for Milwaukee during Cactus League play, but then the plan hit a major snag. Right around a week before Opening Day was set to take place, it was announced that the catcher would be suspended for 80 games for taking a substance that violated the league’s PED policy.
Scrambling for an answer to start the season, the Brewers would make a trade the next day with the Padres to bring in Victor Caratini to take Severino’s place. That turned out to be a smart move as Caratini has been solid since joining the Crew, slashing .244/.353/.419 with three doubles and four homers in 29 games while throwing out 45% of potential base stealers.
Eventually, though, the day would come where a decision would have to be made. What would the team do when Severino’s suspension was over? Would he be designated for assignment? Traded? Would he be added to the 26-man roster with Caratini being optioned to Triple-A?
As it turns out, there may be a fourth option in play.
Based on his recent rehab start, Pedro Severino could possibly play first base upon his return to the Brewers.
Though Severino still has to sit out 13 more games for the Brewers, he still needs some time to get his legs back under him. Thus, on Saturday night, he began a rehab stint and played his first game with the Double-A Biloxi Shuckers.
Severino looked very good at the plate, finishing the game 4-for-6 (all singles) while scoring three runs and driving in two in a 15-3 Shuckers win. What was most interesting is that Severino played first base for the entire game.
Severino hasn’t played a single inning at first in his major league career and Saturday’s game was the first time he had ever done so in the minors. All eight of his Cactus League appearances earlier this year came at catcher or designated hitter as well.
As Brewers fans know, however, the team has been known to get creative defensively in order to get certain bats in the lineup. And a move from catcher to first base isn’t exactly an uncommon one in recent years across the league.
If Severino feels comfortable enough playing first, he could potentially replace Keston Hiura in the righty-left platoon he has formed with Rowdy Tellez. Though Hiura has been good against righties, it goes against the point of the platoon and his numbers overall are still not particularly amazing (.205 average, .741 OPS, 47.6% K rate).
This solution also allows the Brewers to continue utilizing Caratini, who is a much better defensive catcher than Severino. And with Severino being a righty, Narvaez a lefty, and Caratini a switch hitter, it gives manager Craig Counsell a variety of late game substitution options.
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We’ll see what the Brewers actually do with regards to Severino’s 26-man roster status once the time comes. It’s just nice to know that the team has more options with him than we originally thought.