Twins reluctantly trim Drew Butera
FORT MYERS, FLA. – For the second year in a row, Drew Butera will begin the regular season in the minors.
The Twins sent Butera to Class AAA Rochester on Monday, leaving Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit as the only catchers on the major league roster.
Butera has been a backup on the major league level since 2010. He is an excellent catcher. He calls good games and the pitchers love working with him. He has an arm to shut down the running game. But he's a career .183 hitter. The Twins wanted a bat on the bench.
"This is the hardest one of the spring for me, making that move,'' manager Ron Gardenhire said, "but we're trying to get a little something more off the bench and get a little more versatility here. We think the first 10 days to two weeks of the season you would not need a third catcher. These two should be able to get through it.''
Butera was called up last May1 and spent the rest of the year in the majors.
"Start out this way and see how it goes,'' Gardenhire said. "And if we need to make adjustments, we will do it.''
Outfielder Brandon Boggs, infielder Matt Clement, catcher Dan Rohlfing and infielder Ray Olmedo were assigned to the minor league camp. The Twins have 31 players in camp, but four — Rich Harden, Rafael Perez, Tim Wood and Samuel Deduno — are injured.
That leaves two more cuts. Gardenhire prefers to go north with 12 pitchers but said he might have to take 13 in order to carry someone who might be injured for a few days or to have other options to keep Rule 5 draft pick Ryan Preesly from being used too much.
Ramirez is in?
Many things can happen during the final week of camp, but outfielder Wilkin Ramirez is expected to be the extra bat off Gardenhire's bench. Ramirez, 27, is batting .415 in camp.
Ramirez, a corner outfielder who runs fairly well, batted .276 at Class AAA Rochester last season with 15 homers and 54 RBI in 98 games.
"When these people come into camp, you tell them there's jobs out there,'' Gardenhire said. "He's had a heck of a spring.''
•The Twins still haven't officially named their Opening Day starter, but they have lined up their rotation into the weekend. Liam Hendriks will pitch on Tuesday, followed by Vance Worley on Wednesday, Kevin Correia on Thursday and Cole De Vries on Friday. Worley still is on track to pitch on Opening Day, but the Twins might wait to watch him pitch Wednesday before making a decision. Worley has a 6.35 ERA this spring, and pitching coach Rick Anderson has demanded more fire from Worley and other struggling pitchers during the final week of camp.
•Righthander Anthony Swarzak (cracked ribs) threw 23 pitches over two innings in a minor league game on Monday and came out of it with no problems.
Hendriks will start Tuesday as the Twins play host to Baltimore. Righthander Kevin Gausman will start for the Orioles.
La VELLE E. NEAL III