PHOENIX — For years the A's came into spring training knowing what they would have behind home plate in Kurt Suzuki. Now, not so much.
Derek Norris, who caught most of the second half last year for Oakland after Suzuki was traded, has power that Suzuki never did. John Jaso, who was part of a three-headed catching crew in Seattle in 2012, is an Oakland specialty — an on-base machine in a way that Suzuki never was.
Jaso attended high school at North Coast Section Division 4 McKinleyville in Humboldt County.
Few teams can afford their catchers to be offense-only players, however, and the jury is out on the defensive skills Norris and Jaso bring to the mix. Much of spring training will be devoted to having manager Bob Melvin, himself a former catcher, see what he likes in each man.
For the moment, Melvin is looking at a modified platoon system that would see the left-handed Jaso, 29, get more at-bats than the right-handed Norris. That's not a long-term solution in Melvin's eyes because down the line he sees the 24-year-old Norris as a 130-games-a-year backstop.