Drew Butera had a career year in 2016 as the backup for All-Star catcher Salvador Perez. In 133 plate appearances, Butera slashed .285/.328/.480 while hitting four home runs and driving in 21 runs. Butera's batting average and slugging percentage were the highest of his career, but his abnormally high .373 BABIP would seem to suggest that those numbers will come down a fair amount in 2017. Butera has posted a far below average wRC+ of 49 over his career while his career FIP is over 130, indicating that his defense has been much more valuable than his offense over his career. Nonetheless, the Royals also liked him enough to sign him to a two-year deal this offseason to continue serving as a reliable backup for Perez. The 33-year-old will have a very good shot to log 100 plate appearances for the fourth straight year in 2017, even if his offensive averages regress back to the mean next season.
Butera is starting at catcher and hitting ninth Sunday against the Rangers, Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star reports. Salvador Perez was scratched from Saturday's lineup due to neck stiffness, so Butera was a late addition. Until Perez is ready to return, look for Butera to see an increase in playing time. Butera has played in five games this season, during which he's gone 1-for-10.
Butera, making just his second start of the season, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout Sunday against the Angels. The seldom-used catcher is the only hitter on the Royals' active roster that hasn't reached base yet this season. Butera is 0-for-7 with two strikeouts while appearing in just three contests (once as a pinch hitter) so far this year. With one of the game's best backstops in Salvador Perez ahead of him on the depth chart, Butera's only fantasy value comes in the form of an extreme punt play on the days he starts.
Butera will leave spring camp to join Team Italy for the World Baseball Classic, Josh Vernier of 610 Sports Radio reports. Butera's status for the WBC was up in the air after he was diagnosed with a minor oblique strain last week, but he appears good to go after playing in Tuesday's Cactus League game. The decision was to be expected if the 33-year-old felt healthy, as his father serves as a coach on the team. Italy opens pool play Thursday in Mexico.
Butera will start at catcher and bat seventh in the order in Tuesday's Cactus League game against the Reds, 610 Sports Radio Kansas City reports. Butera has been bothered by an oblique strain in the early stages of spring training, but it looks like he's since healed up and is ready to step back in behind the plate. The 33-year-old is slated to open the season as the top backup to Salvador Perez.
Butera (oblique) is unsure about his World Baseball Classic status and will be re-evaluated next week, Josh Vernier of 610 Sports Radio reports. Butera missed this past week of camp with the strain and it appeared the absence was simply precautionary. However, the veteran catcher's status is up in the air for the WBC, where he is expected to represent Italy. Keep tabs on the situation over the coming days.
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