Royals sizing up Buck, Olivo

Royals sizing up Buck, Olivo

MINNEAPOLIS -- As the season winds down, so does the Royals' evaluation of catchers Miguel Olivo and John Buck. Manager Trey Hillman sees improvement in both of them.

"I've liked both of them equally in spots, as far as blocking balls," Hillman said. "Miggy's done a great job of continuing to improve his game management. Buck's throwing has gotten better, his release times have improved.

"So, I've actually seen improvement from both of them in the areas where they needed to improve. The offensive statistics are what they are.

"I don't think John Buck is a .220 hitter, but that's what he's done this year. Miguel is hitting a little bit higher than normal for him, but you put those two guys' numbers together, and it's not bad at all from a slug standpoint."

Until Aug. 31, Buck had started the vast majority of games at catcher -- 93 to Olivo's 42. On that day, however, Hillman announced he wanted more of a look at Olivo during the last month of the season.

Since then, Olivo has caught 14 games to 11 for Buck, who also started Saturday.

Entering Saturday's game, Buck had a .233 average, nine home runs and 48 RBIs; Olivo was at .255 with 12 homers and 41 RBIs. As Hillman suggested, their "slug," with a total of 21 homers and 89 RBIs, looks pretty good.

Catching on
A look at the stats of catchers Miguel Olivo and John Buck entering Saturday afternoon's game vs. the Twins:
 
Buck
Olivo
Starts10456
Record48-5626-30
CS/Att.7-60, 12%12-31, 39%
ERA4.544.42

Both consider themselves starting catchers, and Hillman was asked if the Royals could have both of them on the roster again next year.

"That's something we're going to have to discuss. I can't answer that yet," Hillman said.

Are they both No. 1 catchers?

"I have to continue to look at where we want to go. I think both of them have the ability if they put all of their skill set together more consistently," Hillman said. "I think both of them have the ability to be No. 1 guys."

Of course, there's the possibility that only Buck will remain. Olivo's status hinges on a $2.7 million mutual option for next season. Either he or the ballclub can opt out of the deal. And, of course, if both are back, one might be traded in a catcher-thin market.

While Buck and Olivo have been rivals for the top job, they've worked well together.

"The two guys have the mindset you want them to have," Hillman said. "You want both of them to feel they have the ability to be No. 1 catchers. And their relationship has been outstanding, and they've coexisted and gotten along very well. They just both want to play."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.