They’re calling themselves “The Four Amigos,” making light of each other with inside digs in the familiar manner of lively, good-natured fraternity brothers.
Lately, Jeff Mathis has been catching most of the flak, some of it self-directed.
“I feel like I’m back in high school, catching seven innings,” Mathis said, grinning.
This is where Bobby Wilson comes in, having arrived as a Sept. 1 reinforcement along with Ryan Budde to provide depth at the catching position behind Mathis and Mike Napoli.
“I’m the middle innings guy,” Wilson said, smiling.
“I’m the closer,” added Napoli. “And he” – pointing to Budde, catcher No. 4 – “is the microwave. He heats everybody up.”
Manager Mike Scioscia loves his catchers, relating to them in ways he can relate to no other players for obvious reasons. He lived the life for many years and knows everything there is to know about it.
Scioscia has been pulling Mathis late in close games for pinch-hitters, largely because his offense hasn’t caught up with his brilliant defense this season.
Outgoing and personable, the fours catchers love this time of year when they’re all together. They spend six weeks in close quarters during Spring Training, and they’re reunited in September.
Napoli, Mathis and Wilson share Florida roots, while Budde is an Oklahoma native.
Napoli has been known to launch big flies, but he might not be as strong as Budde, who kills golf balls and occasionally drives a baseball as far as Napoli.
Wilson, as a hitter, uses the whole field and makes solid contact.
“We’ve got four Major League catchers,” Scioscia said. “These guys can all play at this level.”
Unfortunately, only one can play at a time – even if there are nights when as many as three manage to stay busy, with Budde on call.
If the Angels nail down another AL West title, Wilson could be on the postseason roster, giving Scioscia the option of holding back Napoli for late pinch-hitting duties. With one of the five starters going to the bullpen, a spot could open up for a third receiver if Scioscia wants to go in that direction.