Royals 6, Sox 5 (6)
Yermin Mercedes is doing what he can to soften his reputation as solely an offensive catcher. Mercedes threw out Michael Taylor — with an assist from Danny Mendick on a Javy Baez-like tag — trying to steal and made a sliding catch on a foul pop-up.
He also had an RBI single and lined into an inning-ending double play (Eloy Jimenez was caught off second). Mercedes, however, was charged with an error for hitting Taylor at first on a pickoff attempt, allowing a run to score.
Catcher Zack Collins, getting at-bats as a DH, lined a homer to center and hit a sinking liner off shortstop Nicky Lopez’s glove for a single.
Yasmani Grandal, still out with a sore knee, is the No. 1 catcher, and veteran Jonathan Lucroy probably has the inside track on the No. 2 spot. But the injury to Grandal is a reminder of the value Mercedes and Collins could provide while waiting in the wings.
“It’s a very deep catching situation, one of the deepest I’ve seen,” said manager Tony La Russa, who also mentioned Seby Zavala as part of the group. But carrying three catchers would knock an extra infielder or outfielder off the roster and probably isn’t in the plans, La Russa said.
6 straight walks — after 2 outs
La Russa brought lefty Kodi Medeiros as a pitching extra to avoid rolling over innings with less than three outs — which neither he nor Royals skipper Mike Matheny employed. Medeiros wasn’t needed even though Sox pitchers combined for eight walks, including six in a row, with three each by righty Tyler Johnson and lefty Jacob Lindgren.
Sox at Giants, 2:05 p.m. Thursday, Scottsdale, Lance Lynn vs. Alex Wood. Friday, Jonathan Stiever vs. Mariners; Saturday, Reynaldo Lopez at Indians. The next three games will be seven full innings.