If you've seen today's Kansas City Star, you might have read the story about Miguel Olivo. The free agent catcher was signed December 27 by the Royals to come in and compete with John Buck for playing time.
Evidently, that was not what was communicated to Olivo via his agent, Martin Arburua, who had conversations with five or six teams, including the Tigers, after he was non-tendered by the Marlins during the offseason. But, in the end, he wound up coming to Kansas City because he thought he was going to have a good shot at being the Royals' primary catcher.
It was apparently a miscommunication, though, as shortly after pitchers and catchers reported to camp in Surprise, Ariz., new Royals manager Trey Hillman made it clear that Buck was Kansas City's No. 1 man behind the plate.
Olivo shrugged it off, saying that's not what he had been told, but that he would compete for his job and continue to work toward being the Royals' primary catcher.
"We'll work it out," Olivo said at the time. "In my mind, I'm the starting catcher because that's the way I've been my whole career."
Now, two weeks into Spring Training, today's story by Sam Mellinger appears in the Star, and it really doesn't sound like Olivo is content, despite the fact that he claims he's not angry, or bitter with his situation.
"If I'd have known it was going to be like that, the second catcher on the team, I would've (done) something else," Olivo said.
He came to Kansas City thinking that he was going to be the starter, and he could have been in an organization like Detroit's, so do you really think he'll continue to be happy if he's playing catcher twice a week, and DHing or playing left field other days?
For their part, Hillman and Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore have both stated that they never told Arburua anything about Olivo's playing time, or certainly not that he would be the starter. And both Hillman and Moore have also said that, just like with every position in Spring Training, Olivo and Buck are competing for playing time.
In front of the cameras and microphones, things have seemed fine. Olivo is a veteran, and he says that he'll deal with the situation, since there's really nothing he can do about it other than compete hard to earn the job. But you really have to wonder whether Olivo's blood is boiling deep down inside, and that he's regretting having signed with the Royals.
If so, I don't think this will be a healthy marriage in the long run, and it might be wise for the Royals to shop around for a team looking for a decent catcher, and see what kind of return they could get for Olivo when he's eligible to be traded on June 16. He batted .237 with 16 home runs and 60 runs batted in with the Marlins in 2007, and he's got a good arm and decent speed.
The Royals could always go with Matt Tupman as the backup to Buck, and unlike Olivo, Tupman would probably be thrilled at the aspect of making Kansas City's 25-man roster.
Tupman had an impressive offseason, playing in the Dominican Winter League for Tigres del Licey. The 28-year old Tupman batted .293 with 12 RBI during the regular season, and earned the chance to start for his team in the Caribbean Series. He helped his team win the championship with a 5-1 record by batting .353 in those games.
And, who knows, maybe Olivo will be the one to emerge as the starter. But Kansas City needs players who want to be on the team, no matter what their role is. And if John Buck is going to be starting again for the Royals in 2008, it might not be beneficial to have Olivo stewing on the bench.