Butera separating himself with defense

Posted on March 26th, 2009 – 8:26 AM
By Joe Christensen

FORT MYERS, FLA. — As Patrick Reusse reported last Sunday, Twins catcher Drew Butera has the inside track over Jose Morales for an Opening Day roster spot, assuming Joe Mauer begins the season on the disabled list.

Morales, a switch-hitter, is batting 1.000 (3-for-3) for his major league career. Butera batted just .219 last year for Class AA New Britain, but this choice will be all about defense, and there is no comparison.

Morales is a converted infielder who’s still learning the catching trade. His games have been described as “sloppy.” There are rumblings that Twins starters have not been satisfied with Morales’ game-calling abilities. That is no small thing because many of them are used to being on auto-pilot with Mauer.

Meanwhile, Butera is a defensive whiz. The Twins thought he was ready to handle big league pitchers last spring. On Tuesday, there were rave reviews about Butera’s defense again, as the Twins toppled the Marlins 8-1.

Kevin Slowey pitched five strong innings. Asked about his outing, he began by saying, “That was my second time pitching to Drew Butera, and we were even more on the same page than we were last time. He called a good game.”

Manager Ron Gardenhire added, “The game was crisp. Catchers are doing a good job.”

For what it’s worth, Morales is batting .188 (3-for-16) this spring, and Butera .364 (4-for-11).

La Velle received indications Wednesday that Mauer’s back has felt much better in recent days, but Mauer is doubtful for Opening Day, and it looks like Butera will get his roster spot.

Note: Beyond the two columns per week Reusse is writing for us, he’s been churning out some great stuff over at his blog for KSTP (AM-1500). Basically, he filed four extra columns from Fort Myers last week and has another one up today on Minneapolis legend Johnny Blanchard.

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