We start this week's notes with two apologies.
No. 1: Sorry this is a little late.
No. 2: Sorry, despite asking a few Twins officials, I have not learned the proper way to pronounce Yangervis Solarte's name.
I haven't had a reason to know until now. Signed out of Venezuela a few weeks before his 18th birthday in 2005, Solarte hasn't done much to stand out in the Twins farm system. Especially last season, when right shoulder surgery limited him to 16 games between rookie league, Class A Fort Myers and Class AA New Britain.
In 154 minor league games, Solarte was a .254/.310/.327 hitter.
That all changed this year at Fort Myers, where Solarte batted .330/.408/.462 with 2 homers and 9 RBI in 24 games. The two homers came in the same game at Jupiter on May 1. So Solarte has earned a promotion to New Britain to try to help a team with one of the worst records in all of professional baseball.
``Our guys thought he could hit when we signed him,'' said Mike Radcliff, Twins vice president, player personnel. ``He's always showed some hit skills. We've been trying to find the best spot for him on defense.
Solarte hasn't hit this well since he batted .303 in the Gulf Coast League in 2007.
``Like all guys who sign at a young age, he's maturing and gaining more confidence in who he is and his game,'' Radcliff said.
I asked Jim Rantz, the Twins director of minor leagues, where Solarte will play.
``I don't care where he plays as long as his bat is in the lineup,'' Rantz said.
Solarte's middle name, if you were wondering, is Alfredo.
We'll try this again.
I hinted a few weeks ago that the Twins were comfortable enough with Drew Butera as the backup catcher that they won't be in a hurry to call up Jose Morales once he's ready. That was met with shock, dismay and denial in the comments section,
With Morales now at Class AAA Rochester, let's try this again.
Morales is not a slam dunk to replace Drew Butera as the Twins backup catcher. Let me explain why.
The first two weeks of the regular season, I kept writing that Butera was in the majors only until Morales was ready. Then I received a tap on the shoulder one day from a Twins official, who told me it would be wise to stop writing that.
The Twins like Butera's defense a lot. He can't hit, but his defensive skills make him valuable. The combo of Mike Redmond and Morales combined to throw out ONE baserunner last season, Besides, it will be hard for Morales to stay sharp playing twice a week. With Jim Thome around, it would be hard to get Morales at-bats there.
So unless Morales starts throwing baserunners out, he'll likely remain at Rochester.
I understand the Twins' reasoning. I also think it's very unfortunate for Morales, whose bat looks major league ready. Morales has been injured in each of the last three offseasons and unable to play winter ball where he could improve his catching skills. I also feel the Twins should have have had Morales in surgery earlier in the offseason. Tough breaks for the kid.
For now, get used to seeing Butera backing up Mauer. He does bring value defensively. As for offense....he's trying.
Former Gopher Derek McCallum had wrist surgery on Monday and then headed to Fort Myers for rehab. He'll miss several weeks.
Not the best first outing for righthander Deolis Guerra at Class AAA Rochester. He gave up two earned runs four innings on Thursday on eight hits (three doubles) and a walk.