Clayton Kershaw was back on the mound Tuesday for just his second start this season. The reigning Cy Young Award winner dazzled through seven scoreless innings. Kershaw did allow nine hits, but had every pitch in his arsenal working, and got out of multiple situations with runners on base.
With A.J. Ellis still recovering from knee surgery, Drew Butera was behind the plate catching Kershaw’s return. The Dodgers traded for Butera last season and the catcher appeared in just three games with the team, none of which was he Kershaw’s battery mate.
Following Kershaw’s nine-strikeout performance, Butera offered a quick take on the experience, via Time Warner Cable’s SportsNetLA Twitter account:
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) May 7, 2014
Since Ellis was lost to the disabled list the catcher’s position became a major weakness for the Dodgers. Butera and Tim Federowicz both struggled with the bat, and while each are regarded as defensive catchers, neither was overly impressive.
Butera did find success serving as Zack Greinke’s de facto personal catcher. Greinke began the season 5-0 and commended Butera for his presence behind the plate. Despite Greinke’s praise, the Dodgers selected Miguel Olivo’s contract and optioned Federowicz to Triple-A.
While it was Butera and not Federowicz remaining with the team, the former’s remaining with the team may have been due in large part to Butera not having options remaining. Hitting below .200 at the start of the Dodgers’ nine-game road trip, Butera has found some success on the road and is now hitting .222 with two home runs.
Butera’s first homer on the season came in the 12th inning of a Dodger win over the Minnesota Twins. At the time, it gave the Dodgers a two-run lead and it proved to be the difference as the Twins were able to answer with one run in the bottom of the 12th. The 30-year-old hit his second homer in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s win.
Once Ellis returns, the Dodgers may face a difficult situation in deciding whether to keep Butera or Olivo as the backup catcher. Should Butera be the player placed on waivers, he’ll take with him the experience of having caught for both Greinke and Kershaw.
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