La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Butera, Hollimon cut. Waldrop to DL

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: March 31, 2012 - 8:24 AM

The Twins will carry two catchers on their 25-man roster on Opening Day. Drew Butera won't be one of them.

Butera was optioned to Class AAA Rochester this morning, ending his two-year run as backup/fill-in catcher for Joe Mauer. Butera batted .273 this spring, but he faced an uphill battle once the Twins signed Ryan Doumit as a free agent then considered the possibility of carrying two catchers on the roster.

Butera said moments after he was cut from camp that the club will start the season with two catchers. That means free agent catcher J.R. Towles won't make the team either. Towles remains in camp as of now, probably so the club can get a little longer look at him.

Butera, 28, is very good behind the plate with a strong arm and excellent game-calling skills. He became Carl Pavano's personal catcher, as the two seemed to click right away. But offense has been an issue. Butera batted .197 in 2010 then hit just .167 last season. There was a stretch last season during which National League pitchers had a higher batting average than Butera. And pitchers for the D-Backs (.186), Brewers (.175) and Reds (.168) ended up with higher season averages.

Maybe this move will allow Butera to go to the minors and develop a stroke that will lead to greater success at the plate. There's always a chance he can return a better player. If you look across the league at backup catchers, many take their lumps for several years before finding a steady role.

So this might not be the last of Drew Butera. It's just that it's hard to carry a sub -.200 average on the roster..

The Twins also reassigned infielder Michael Hollimon to the minor league camp. Hollimon showed a good bat but made mistakes in the field. And righthander Kyle Waldrop (elbow) was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list. The Twins now have 31 players remaining in camp, including 15 pitchers.


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