Yesterday, it was announced that Los Angeles Dodgers’ catcher A.J. Ellis would undergo surgery to repair a tear in his meniscus and could be out four-to-six weeks.
Many believed that meant that catcher Tim Federowicz would find himself back in the big leagues and possibly take over the starting role instead of Drew Butera. While the starter has not yet been determined, the official move was announced today via the Dodgers’ official Twitter account:
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 8, 2014
Federowicz was expected to be the team’s backup catcher heading into the season, coming off a season in which he served in that role. Those plans changed when the Dodgers decided to use his option and send him to the minors in order to keep Butera, who was out of options. The Dodgers also have catcher Miguel Olivo in Triple-A, but he is not on the 40-man roster and would need another corresponding move. Olivo is 35 and has more major league experience than both other catchers combined; however, calling up Federowicz proved to be the easier move.
Last season, the 26-year-old hit .231 with four home runs and 16 RBI in 56 games for the Dodgers, spending some time with the Isotopes early in the season. Overall, Federowicz had a WAR of 0.5 and provided above-average defense with a plus-four in Defensive Runs Saved. He struggles with off-speed pitches in the big leagues and could form a platoon with Butera, depending on who is pitching for the Dodgers. Ellis is expected to be out at least a month, giving manager Don Mattingly until at least mid-May to decide on a plan behind the plate. It is unlikely that the team makes any moves for a catcher, as they should be able to withstand the loss of Ellis with the other pieces in their lineup.
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