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2022 Dodgers in review: Tony Wolters

Or “The other OTHER catcher the Dodgers used this year.”

Los Angeles Dodgers v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Be honest: you forgot who Anthony “Tony” John Wolters is. That’s okay.

In fact, as background for writing about Wolters’ tenure with the Dodgers, I stumbled upon the fact that Wolters was a middle-infield prospect with Cleveland before being moved behind the plate. Wolters had caught a single game in high school and he was drafted as a second baseman. Wolters was 21 when he made the reverse Craig Biggio. The move appears to have paid off as Wolters has remained in professional baseball as a catcher.

Such is the life of the journeyman catcher, who happens to not be a backup catcher. For me, one of the true joys of traveling to see Dodger games is that you never know what you are going to see or what memory connections will be made. For our purposes, I will always associate Tony Wolters with a terrible sandwich, but I will explain that connection in a moment.

Tony Wolters striking out. Kauffman Stadium. August 14, 2022.
Tony Wolters striking out. Kauffman Stadium. August 14, 2022.
Michael Elizondo / TrueBlueLA

Tony Wolters played the vast majority of the 2022 season for Triple-A Oklahoma City. He was pressed into actual major games due to Austin Barnes being placed on the family emergency list on August 12. By being placed on the emergency list, Barnes was guaranteed to miss a minimum of three games and a maximum of seven games.

To provide coverage at catcher, the Dodgers selected the contract of Tony Wolters, and designated Rylan Bannon for assignment, who was subsequently claimed by Atlanta, but that thread is a story for another day. At the time of his call-up, Wolters was hitting .216/.311/269 (36 for 167) in 50 games for Oklahoma City. Wolters wore No. 18 while with the major league club.

Prior to writing this essay, I would have said confidently that Tony Wolters appeared in just one game for the Dodgers on August 14, a sleepy 4-0 loss that snapped a 12-game winning streak.

This game is only memorable to me for three reasons:

  1. Wolters got the start and struck out all three times.
  2. I had to leave early in the top of the ninth to return my rental car, get to the airport, and meet my mother in Chicago for two games in Milwaukee. It was only the second time ever that I left a Dodger game early, and ironically the second time I left early this season. (Thank you freezing rain in Minneapolis!)
  3. I had an abomination of a sandwich, the BBQ Reese’s sandwich, a Kauffmann Stadium exclusive, with pulled pork, Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce, bacon bits, and stuffed with Reese’s peanut butter cups. And then I chose (essentially) creamed corn as a side. As I said, an abomination. The sandwich is not Wolters’ fault by any means.

At least for the game Wolters started, I had to good sense to sit in the Loge section of Kauffman Stadium, which was entirely in the shade.

But to my surprise, I learned that Wolters actually played the day before, during the Brooklyn Dodgers' 13-3 rout of the Kansas City Monarchs. Eric described that night as “sweltering” in the original essay. I was there and sweltering does not begin to cover how oppressively muggy, and generally miserable the weather of this night was. I eventually had to seek shelter in the Royals’ Hall of Fame museum, which unlike the Padres’ Hall of Fame museum, has multiple rooms and is properly air-conditioned. As a result, I did not notice when Wolters entered the game as the designated hitter and later moved to second base when Hanser Alberto took the mound.

I do not have any footage of Wolters at second base, so please enjoy Alberto inducing a fly-out to Joey Gallo to end this rout.

On August 15, Barnes returned and Wolters was designated for assignment. On August 19, the Dodgers released Wolters. On August 23, the Dodgers re-signed Wolters to a minor league deal with Oklahoma City, where he remained for the rest of the season.

2022 particulars

Age: 30

Stats: 0-for-4, 3 K w/Dodgers; .230/.321/.284, 9 doubles, in 61 games w/OKC

Game of the year

Honestly, it might seem counter-intuitive to make this call, but I’m putting in the game where he had the hat trick and struck out three times on August 14. The main reason: he started and caught Tyler Anderson fairly well. In my view, it’s better to start than come in at the tail end of a rout as a method to allow Hanser Alberto to pitch.

The Royals had some extra life to them after getting knocked around for the first two games of the series and they capitalized on the Dodgers’ offense going quiet.

Roster status

Wolters is a free agent.