Catching up with the other catchers

The sudden departure of Kenji Johjima caught the organization by surprise, and the two players most affected by Kenji’s decision (other than himself) told me they were surprised — and ready to compete for the position.

“I got a phone call from my agent telling me about it,” Adam Moore said from his offseason home in Texas. “If it opens a door for me, I’m ready for the opportunity.”

Moore said he didn’t have a clue that Johjima was considering going back to Japan. “It must have been a difficult decision. I like Kenji and wish him the best.”

Moore was among the late-season call-ups from Triple-A Tacoma and impressed manager Don Wakamatsu with his defensive skills. Moore did not seem overwhelmed by the big-league surroundings.

“I expected to start maybe two games and ended up starting six,” he said. “It was better than I expected.”

Among the five hits in his 23 at-bats was his first big-league home run.

“I gave the ball to my mother and she put it in a little case,” he said. “It’s pretty neat.”

Moore is working out and plans to check in to the Mariners’ Spring Training facility in Peoria, Ariz., in early January.

Meanwhile, Rob Johnson, who shared the catching duties with Johjima this past season — and actually moved to the top of the depth chart — currently is en route, via car, to Arizona from Montana.

He’ll soon begin a rehab program following the first of two hip surgeries. Johnson said he is “feeling great” and 100 percent confident that he will be completely healthy when camp opens in mid-February. The story currently is on the Mariners web site.

Johnson also was surprised by Johjima’s decision, and said Kenji was a “good friend and taught me a lot about catching.”

— Jim Street

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