Morales is the backup catcher — plus Tuesday lineups

Jose Morales will start the season as the Twins backup catcher, the team informed him on
Tuesday morning.

Morales beat out Drew Butera to be the backup to Mike Redmond, who will be the starting catcher while Joe Mauer is out with his sore back. Butera had appeared to have the edge a couple of weeks ago as he’s the stronger catcher defensively, but Morales showed a lot of improvement behind the plate recently and that combined with his stronger bat helped to earn him the nod.

Butera was one of three cuts the Twins made on Tuesday. The club optioned Butera and left-hander Jose Mijares to Triple-A Rochester and reassigned infielder Alejandro Machado to Minor League camp.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Monday that the team expected to have their bullpen set following this set of cuts, but Mijares was the only pitcher cut. The expectation is that the Twins will break camp with 12 pitchers so that would leave three pitchers battling for two relief spots. Philip Humber, R.A. Dickey and Brian Duensing are in the mix for the long relief role and one other opening in the bullpen.

The club also still has three infielders competing for two utility spots. That race is expected to go down to the final day of camp.

The Twins also informed catcher Jeff Christy that he’ll stay with the Major League club through Saturday but will then be reassigned to Minor League camp.

That leaves the Twins with 30 players in camp, although that includes Christy along with Mauer and Boof Bonser, who are both expected to be placed on the disabled list for the start of the season. So technically the Twins have to make two more cuts to get down to their Opening Day 25-man roster.

Lineups

Twins
Denard Span, CF
Matt Tolbert, SS
Brendan Harris, 2B
Jason Kubel, LF
Brian Buscher, 3B
Mike Redmond, C
Matt Moses, DH
Brock Peterson, 1B
Chris Parmelee, RF
Pitching: Nick Blackburn, RHP

Pirates
Nyjer Morgan, LF
Freddy Sanchez, 2B
Nate McLouth, CF
Eric Hinske, DH
Adam LaRoche, 1B
Brandon Moss, RF
Ramon Vazquez, 3B
Jack Wilson, SS
Jason Jaramillo, C
Pitching: Jeff Karstens, RHP

UPDATE: Justin Morneau was scratched from an early lineup due to some stiffness in his back that he felt while swinging earlier today. It doesn’t seem serious, just something that the Twins decided not to take a chance with.

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