Devin Mesoraco started his second straight game at catcher Thursday night against the Marlins at Great American Ball Park, but he looked as if he had already played the game four hours earlier.
His hands dripping with sweat, Mesoraco talked to two sports writers in the clubhouse about his performance in Wednesday’s 11-2 victory over the Phillies.
“I just got done hitting,” he said. “It’s really hot in the cage.”
Mesoraco went 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI Wednesday in his fourth start of the season. He was just as excited with what he accomplished behind the plate, helping Mike Leake record his best performance of the season with seven scoreless innings.
“That was good,” Mesoraco said. “That was the Leaker I know right there. He was throwing a lot of strikes, had command of all his pitches. In the other games, he was having trouble getting first-pitch strikes, and he was behind and guys started getting aggressive.”
Like Leake, Mesoraco has battled consistency issues in his young career. The 24-year-old from Punxsutawney, Pa., hit .212 in 54 games last season. He was sent to Louisville late in the season, and although he returned to the Reds in September, he didn’t make the postseason roster.
Mesoraco had to prove himself all over again in spring training, and he hit 326 in 43 at-bats. That success has carried over to April. He’s hitting .267 in 15 at-bats.
Thursday’s start was his fourth of the season, and it was the first time he started when Leake wasn’t pitching. He caught Tony Cingrani, who was called up from Triple-A Louisville.
“After last season, I have a better understanding of how limited your opportunities are,” Mesoraco said. “I have a better appreciation of going out there and really working and concentrating on doing my job and helping the team win games. Last year I saw what can happen if you don’t perform. I just need to keep going out there and doing my job.”
Mesoraco has improved his stroke by studying his past at-bats.
“I watched a lot of video of me whenever I was good, whenever I was happy with my swing,” he said. “It’s still an effort to improve every day, but I feel I’m much closer to where I should be. Last year, I was struggling and struggling and trying to recreate the wheel instead of going back to what has worked for me in the past.”
Marlins at Reds, 7:10 p.m., FS Ohio, 700, 1410