This season, catchers in the Red Sox organization have been dropping like Spinal Tap drummers.
First Mark Wagner broke the hamate bone in his left hand. Then Dusty Brown strained a ligament in his left thumb. And now, Victor Martinez is on the disabled list with a fractured thumb.
And just like that, Dan Butler finds himself in Triple-A.
(photo courtesy of the Lowell Spinners)
A year ago at this time, the 23-year-old catcher was playing for the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod League. After going undrafted following his redshirt junior year at the University of Arizona, Butler came to Massachusetts hoping to catch the eye of big league scouts.
“That was my whole goal last year when I went to the Cape League – finding a team that would give me the opportunity to play,” Butler told me. “That’s all I asked for.”
Butler played so well for Brewster that he was selected to play in the Cape Cod League All-Star Game at Fenway Park last July. Four days later, he signed with the Red Sox as a non-drafted free agent and was assigned to Single-A Lowell.
“They had an injury at Lowell and asked me if I was interested in signing – I said yea,” Butler told me with a laugh. “It’s been a little bit of a whirlwind ever since.”
Butler only batted .173 in 24 games last season, but this year he’s put up big numbers for Single-A Greenville, batting .316 with 5 HR and 26 RBI in 55 games. Last week, Dan was the starting catcher for the South Division in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game.
“That was a great experience,” Butler said. “It was fun to hang around all of those guys. It meant a lot – from where I’ve been it was definitely uplifting.”
Butler has actually been with Pawtucket twice this year. In early May he joined the team for one game in Charlotte and took batting practice, but was never put on the active roster.
“I came up for the day because they were worried that Jason Varitek might be hurt and that Dusty Brown might have to go up. But ‘Tek turned out to be OK and Brownie didn’t get called-up so I left right after the game. It was still fun to hang out with these guys for a day and get to experience Triple-A a little bit.”
Within days, Butler is likely to make his Triple-A debut in front of a Fireworks Night crowd at McCoy Stadium. That’s quite a leap from the baseball field at Stony Brook Elementary School where the Brewster Whitecaps play their home games.
“I think it speaks volumes about the guys we have in the organization,” PawSox manager Torey Lovullo said. “He’s not a ding-dong that can’t run a baseball game and that’s really the reason why he was picked. He can block the baseball, control a pitching staff, and run a baseball game and we’re looking for him to do that while he’s here.”
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The PawSox will look for their third straight win over first-place Scranton/WB when they host the Yankees on Thursday at 6:15.
I’ll join Bob Montgomery for TV coverage on Cox Sports throughout Rhode Island beginning at 6:00. Mike Logan will join Steve Hyder on the PawSox radio network.
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