Jorge Fabregas hit .327 last August and September, finished 1996 with a career-high .287 average, and Angel coaches and scouts noticed a marked improvement in the catcher’s defense.
Even so, the front office traded for New York Yankee backup catcher Jim Leyritz, whose presence--and two-year contract with an option for a third year--cast a cloud of uncertainty over the futures of Fabregas and Todd Greene.
“This is nothing different--it happens every year,” Fabregas, 27, said. “I’m like Rodney Dangerfield. I get no respect. I hit .287 and it doesn’t matter. They don’t notice. But I actually don’t mind [them trading for another catcher]. I like the competition.”
Fabregas, who bats left-handed, will probably catch 60 games or so, but Greene, 25, one of the organization’s top prospects and Baseball Weekly’s minor league player of the year in 1995, suddenly finds himself No. 3 on the depth chart.
The wrist injury that hampered Greene for all of 1996 has healed and he was hoping to compete for the starting job this spring.
“But I’d be cheating myself if I didn’t think I’d make the team and play,” Greene said. “If you don’t believe in yourself, no one will believe in you.
“I’m not willing to give up a year of development to sit on the bench and I don’t think the Angels want that either. But it’s not in my mind that I’m going to be in triple-A this year. If it’s in anyone else’s mind, that can change.”