Skipworth makes most of first big league callup

Adding backup catcher gives Marlins flexibility with Kotchman on DL

Skipworth makes most of first big league callup

NEW YORK -- Up until the final week of Spring Training, Kyle Skipworth was building a case to be the Marlins' backup catcher.

But without any previous big league experience, the Marlins decided to option Skipworth to Triple-A New Orleans on the final day of Spring Training. The transaction was made when veteran Miguel Olivo signed to back up Rob Brantly.

For Skipworth, his Triple-A stint didn't last too long. On Friday, the former first-round pick was recalled after first baseman Casey Kotchman was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain.

The sixth overall pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, this is Skipworth's first stint in the big leagues.

"Unexpected would be the word for it," said Skipworth, who is also in New York for the first time. "Towards the end of camp there was, 'It could happen, it couldn't happen.' Things like that are out of your control."

A left-handed hitter, Skipworth saw considerable time in Spring Training, appearing in 17 games and getting 25 at-bats. He was in position to make the team after Jeff Mathis suffered a broken right collarbone.

New Orleans opened its season on Thursday night, and Skipworth was informed before the game that he was going to New York.

"What's a better way to do it, a big league callup in the Big Apple?" said Skipworth, a Riverside, Calif., native. "Maybe the only better place would have been doing it at home in Southern Cal. I'll take this. I'll take anywhere, actually."

After eating breakfast on Friday, Skipworth put on a backpack and walked for about an hour-and-a-half around Manhattan.

"I was just taking it all in," he said. "I went down to Times Square, and really I was kind of a tourist. I think everybody thought I was a hip-hop connoisseur because they were handing me CDs."

Promoting Skipworth gives the Marlins three catchers, but it also provides some flexibility. To help patch up their first-base vacancy, Olivo has been taking ground balls at the position as a possible fill-in while Kotchman is out.

The reason the club didn't promote a first baseman was largely driven by its roster construction. Miami is at its 40-man limit, and Skipworth was already on the 40-man roster.

If the Marlins called up someone who wasn't already on the 40-man roster, they would have had to clear a spot.

Skipworth spent the past two seasons at Double-A Jacksonville. He batted .217 with 21 homers and 63 RBIs in 2012.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter