Since taking over the everyday catching responsibilities with the Los Angeles Dodgers, there were hardly moments where A.J. Ellis wasn’t crouched behind the plate calling pitches. Not the flashiest or most athletic of catchers, Ellis was a steady force and a cerebral player that brought other intangibles to the table.
Naturally, when Ellis was placed on the disabled list after having surgery to repair his meniscus, there was the reasonable expectation that a drop off would occur. The Dodgers were set to rely on Drew Butera and Tim Federowicz to shoulder the catching duties; two players who figured to be capable backups.
Federowicz got the nod to start the majority games, whereas Butera filled more of a “personal catcher” role with Zack Greinke. Butera managed to carve out a niche with the team while Federowicz never seemed to settle in. He struggled at the plate and was unimpressive defensively. On Wednesday, the Dodgers announced they selected Miguel Olivo’s contract and optioned Federowicz back to Triple-A.
Despite Federowicz’s struggles in Ellis’ absence and the subsequent demotion, manager Don Mattingly had a positive outlook on the situation, according to Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com:
Manager Don Mattingly said Wednesday’s demotion of catcher Tim Federowicz should be considered part of the ‘maturation process’ of a young ballplayer.
Mattingly also expressed his belief that Federowicz attempted to do too much, and compared the situation to what Dee Gordon once went through:
He did try to do too much,” said Mattingly. “He said as much to me today. It’s a lot like Dee [Gordon]. It’s the process of being a young player.”
Despite seeing a respectable amount of action in 2013, Federowicz was left off the big league roster at the start of the season in favor of Butera. The move wasn’t necessarily an indictment on Federowicz, but likely a result of him having minor league options remaining and Butera being out of them.
Should Olivo carry over the success he’s had at the Triple-A level, Federowicz’s path back to the big leagues could be blocked this season. Should that be the case, it may also spell the end of Butera’s time with the Dodgers once Ellis is reinstated from the DL.
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