Opinion

Unplanned Jeremy Guthrie-Drew Butera battery has worked for Royals

Kansas City Royals catcher Drew Butera
Kansas City Royals catcher Drew Butera AP

A rough plan for pairing a starting pitcher with the reserve catcher to give catcher Salvador Perez a built-in off day never materialized.

But the Royals’ schedule recently created an opportunity for such a situation to occur and there’s no quibbling with the results.

Behind the plate for Jeremy Guthrie’s last two starts has been Drew Butera. The Royals won both games, at Detroit on May 9 and at Texas on Thursday.

Guthrie surrendered two runs in each game, the fewest of his seven starts this season.

“He’s a veteran pitcher, he knows how to get guy out,” Butera said. “He’s got great stuff, still has a 94 (mph fastball) when he needs it. It was easy for me to be on the same page as him.”

The pairing happened because both games were played in the afternoon, with Perez resting after catching the previous night. Royals manager Ned Yost said there were no plans making the arrangement permanent.

But it’s been two solid games not only for Guthrie but Butera, who picked up an RBI in his first game and went two for three against the Rangers.

Butera was acquired by the Royals from the Angles for infielder Ryan Jackson last week after Erik Kratz went on the disabled list because of a foot injury. Butera started his major-league career with the Twins in 2010.

He had caught Guthrie previously, including the All-Star series played in Japan after last season. Butera joined Guthrie, Perez, Kratz and Alcides Escobar on the team along with future Royals player Franklin Morales.

The Royals were less than two weeks removed from the World Series when the Japan series started, and Butera got a sense of the team he would join the next season.

“It was great to see their personalities,” Butera said. “They’re a lot of fun guys, laid back and relaxed, but when the lights come on, it’s all business. I really admire that, and I hope to enjoy it for a while.”

When Kratz went on the DL, Royals general manager Dayton Moore said he was still their backup catcher, but Butera could make it a difficult call.

“He’s done a very nice job,” said Yost, once a teammate of Butera’s father Sal, also a catcher. “He’s a great receiver behind the plate, blocks balls very effiently with tremendous technique, has an above average throwing arm with good accuracy.”

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BlairKerkhoff.

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