So when your “back-up” catcher starts more games than your “everyday” catcher, does that mean your “back-up” catcher becomes your “everyday” catcher? It was discussed during the Twins game Friday night that the Twins back-up catcher Drew Butera has started 72 games this season, starting catcher Joe Mauer has started 70 games this season with 50 of those coming behind the dish with the other 20 starts between 1st base, right field and designated hitter.
Many players have played hurt this season, example Michel Cuddyer gets drilled with a 98 mile per hour pitch one night and less than 12 hours later, he is back in the lineup because he knows the bench is thin. Justin Morneau played more than half the season with a herniated disk before missing around 7 weeks while recovering from surgery to get it fixed. And then you have Joe Mauer, who I swear refuses to play even if he has a hang nail.
Now I know everyone in Minnesota thinks that Joe Mauer is “baby Jesus” and he can do no wrong, but not only as a fan and a fellow Minnesotan, I’m tired of hearing “Joe Mauer this” and “Joe Mauer that”. Yes I know, living in this state you might as well just get used to it and move on. I also know that any catcher that plays back up to Mauer will never be good enough in some peoples eyes. Butera has caught 7 of the last 8 days because 1) Mauer’s knees can’t handle it and 2) he has what Gardy is referring to as “whiplash” from diving after a pop fly on Tuesday while playing first base.
Mauer has been saying that he has played hurt this season just like every other player, manager Ron Gardenhire has said the same thing, saying “He’s playing hurt more than any of these guys. He’s not getting enough credit for going out there and playing.”. But on Thursday Gardenhire was quoted calling Mauer out for not being willing to play. He informed Mauer that he would have to be able to come in off the bench if something happened to Butera. Mauer was quoted after the game saying he wouldn’t have been able to come in, even if Butera would have gotten hurt during that game. Michael Cuddyer was also quoted talking about the importance of playing hurt with a thin bench. Apparently both Cuddyer and Gardenhire apologized to Mauer the following day about their comments.
With September calling ups coming on Thursday, Gardenhire had been quoted as saying that catcher Rene Rivera would be called up in time for the road series against the LA Angels this coming weekend, but after having Mauer miss the last 4 days, Gardy has decided that Rivera could be called up sometime this morning. It hasn’t been announced if someone would be put on the disabled list or if a player would be optioned back to Rochester. The next question is, who would go back? Trevor Plouffe and Jason Repko are out of options and Luke Hughes only has one left. And with the roster expanding on Thursday, I would highly doubt that someone would get sent back.
So the saga of this season continues. One thing about the Twins, they have managed to keeps us all on our toes this season.