MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - In search for any kind of offensive production from the catcher spot in the absence of Joe Mauer, the Minnesota Twins are swapping one struggling hitter for another.
The Twins added Rene Rivera to the 40-man roster on Thursday and called him up from Triple-A Rochester to back up Drew Butera.
Mauer is on the disabled list with bilateral leg weakness, and Twins GM Bill Smith said he is "doing well," but there remains no timetable for his return. With the three-time AL batting champion on the shelf, Butera and Steve Holm have struggled mightily to give the team any kind of production at the plate in his place.
Butera is hitting .111 with a .158 on-base percentage in 17 games. Holm hit .118 in six games of spot duty, so the Twins sent him back to Triple-A to give Rivera a chance.
"We just wanted to mix it up a little bit," Smith said. "He and Holm are kind of comparable. Ultimately we wanted Holm to get back there and get catching. He's got some things to work on and Rivera's going to come up and fill that spot, hopefully until Joe gets back."
Rivera hasn't exactly been on fire in Triple-A, either. He's hitting .200 with one homer in 13 games with the Red Wings. He was a non-roster invite to spring training who appeared in 53 games with the Seattle Mariners from 2004-06.
Before adding Rivera, the Twins had 39 players on their 40-man roster. That means that if going forward they want to add another player from the minor leagues, they would have to pass someone through waivers first. But the Twins felt losing that bit of flexibility was necessary to try and get some offense going.
The Twins (11-18) were off Thursday after taking two games from the Chicago White Sox, including a no-hitter from Francisco Liriano on Tuesday night that snapped a six-game losing streak. They start a four-game series in Boston on Friday.
They are last in the AL in batting average (.230), runs (89) and home runs (13), and Mauer's absence certainly has contributed to the lack of punch.
"Our club as a whole has not played very well," Smith said. "It's no one position. Drew Butera has done a tremendous job defensively. He hasn't hit much. We'd like him to do better than he has. They're doing their best to fill in for an All-Star catcher."