Backup catcher Sal Fasano’s magical ride in Philadelphia has come to an end as the Phils designate the 34-year old journeyman for assignment.
Fasano became the first player since Rollie Fingers to gain recognition for ironic facial hair. Then once the cameras started turning their attention to the much-traveled AAA catcher, following the lead of a small group of 18-to-24-year-old men in the nosebleed section, the public discovered a true class act. Fasano quickly used his new-found popularity as a springboard to support charity through the sale of Sal's Pals t-shirts.
Phillies assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the decision was difficult. The Phillies have to trade, release or send Fasano outright to the minors by July 31. Fasano has already stated he will not return to minors, which is where he’s spent at least part of the time in 11 of his 12 professional seasons. The Phillies represented his 11th organization.
Fasano was placed on the disabled list on July 4 with left knee inflammation. Before that, he had become for a short while the team's default starting catcher, hitting .243 with 4 home runs and 10 RBIs.
For everything there was to like about the 6-2 catcher, scouting reports sent in to Beerleaguer before the season were dead on. Fasano, a former 37th round pick of the Kansas City Royals, was an all-or-nothing hitter and unorthodox defender who often looked overmatched in all aspects of the game. One reader of this site labeled him “Sal the Deflector” because of his tendency to miss pitches that were often right down Broadway. His reputation for handling pitchers was vastly overrated by the Phillies. His pitchers have never performed well and struggled again this season.
Fasano will be replaced by another career minor leaguer, Chris Coste, who’s having his own storybook season as a 33-year-old rookie.
Fasano would do well not to burn his bridges here in Philadelphia. A player of his character--and unlikely popularity--could generate a fruitful living in the Delaware Valley making appearances at state fairs and baseball card shows. And for all their faults, the Phillies open more doors for high-character former players than any team in baseball.