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One of the latest buzzes on the Minnesota Twins front is that third-string catcher Drew Butera might be playing his final days in a Twins uniform. Phil Mackey of 1500espn.com has brought this point up several times in the last week, citing Butera’s perennial lack of offensive production and Ron Gardenhire‘s approval of Eduaro Escobar, who the Twins acquired from the Chicago White Sox in the Francisco Liriano trade. Mackey writes about Escobar here.
Fans have often been critical about Butera’s offense in the past. A career .183/.232/.265 player, it can be hard to watch the man bat. in 2011 and 2012, Butera typically caught when Liriano started. Whether it was language, demeaner, style of calling the game, or just being the best psychologist who could play backstop for the Twins, Gardenhire had a reason to keep Butera on the roster, in spite of his lack of production at the plate. However, even though spotrac.com lists Butera’s 2013 base salary at a modest $700,000, the reasons to keep him on the roster are slipping away. In November, I suggested that catcher Chris Herrmann could replace Butera. It’s now looking like Herrmann won’t get that chance.
Ever since Butera pitched for the Twins in their May 20, 2013 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, I’ve advocated that he look into pitching as an option. As crazy as it sounds, I seriously wonder if he could eek out a few more years on his career that way. Ultimately, I hope the Twins grab his purportedly fantastic baseball mind for their minor league coaching staff before someone else does.
Butera is currently playing for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic. Where he lands when he returns to Spring Training will be interesting to see.