The 2017 White Sox catching tandem is now the 2018 White Sox catching tandem.
Kevan Smith was brought up from Triple-A Charlotte before Tuesday's doubleheader in Minnesota, and he'll once more team with Omar Narvaez to form the 1-2 catching punch on the South Side for, presumably, the next couple of months while Welington Castillo continues to serve his 80-game suspension for PED use.
Catcher was one of the few positions the White Sox addressed during the offseason, and they brought in Castillo with hopes that he'd be able to help develop a young pitching staff and provide some offense after career years both at and behind the plate. Castillo's two-year contract with an option for a third made for the possibility that he could be the catcher when this rebuilding process yields a planned contender.
But all that went pear shaped with Castillo's suspension, and now the White Sox are back to where they were for the next couple months.
That's not necessarily a bad thing. Last season, Smith and Narvaez quietly were one of the more consistent offensive catching pairs in the American League. White Sox catchers led the Junior Circuit with a .279 batting average and a .346 on-base percentage. Power was a different story, of course, and they ranked 21st in baseball with a .381 slugging percentage.
It's unlikely that Smith's return will spark Narvaez to life offensively. Narvaez is in the midst of a miserable season at the dish, entering Tuesday's pair of games with a .179/.281/.238 slash line.
Smith, meanwhile, has played just 30 games at Triple-A thanks to multiple DL stints this year. But his numbers there are better than what Narvaez has managed with the White Sox. Smith brings a .268/.331/.411 line up from Charlotte.
Will Smith and Narvaez again quietly lead AL catchers in batting average and on-base percentage? That seems doubtful.
The main hope with Smith returning is that he'll be able to provide some more defensive consistency — Narvaez has one of the highest passed-balls totals in the game with eight — and do a little of the work Castillo was supposed to do with these young pitchers during the latter's absence.
This wasn't how this catching group was supposed to look coming into this season. But here the White Sox are again.