Twins catcher Drew Butera isn’t in the majors for his bat. Or for really any reason I can tell. But there he was in Minnesota’s lineup for the 57th time this season on Thursday, and he ended up 0-for-4 in a 6-1 loss to the Orioles. He’s 6-for-55 since the All-Star break, and he’s hitting just .160 for the season.
With Thursday’s game, Butera reached 200 plate appearances for the season. Here are all of the players since 1961 to hit .160 or worse in at least 200 plate appearances:
1. Roy Oyler: .135 in 247 PA (1968 Tigers)
2. Brandon Wood: .146 in 243 PA (2010 Angels)
3. Bob Uecker: .150 in 221 PA (1967 Phillies & Braves)
4. Jim Mason: .152 in 251 PA (1975 Yankees)
5. Al Weis: .155 in 213 PA (1966 White Sox)
6. Nate Colbert: .156 in 260 PA (1975 Tigers & Expos)
7. Dick Tracewski: .156 in 240 PA (1968 Tigers)
8. Andruw Jones: .158 in 238 PA (2008 Dodgers)
9. Ken Williams: .159 in 243 PA (1988 White Sox)
10. Gus Triandos: .159 in 237 PA (1962 Orioles)
So, unless the Twins find themselves a new backup catcher tomorrow, Butera could well become the first player since 1975 to hit .160 or worse in at least 250 plate appearances. Greg Vaughn’s .163 in 297 plate appearances for the 2002 Rays is the worst mark since.
Of course, Adam Dunn, with his .165 average in 431 plate appearances, could also have something to say about all of this.
MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that starter Clay Buchholz is at Citizens Bank Park for Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins. The right-hander recently underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of his flexor pronator mass. The timetable for his recovery is three to five months, but most are expecting him to miss the rest of the season since the Phillies aren’t legitimate contenders.
According to Zolecki, Buchholz apologized to GM Matt Klentak “and others” — presumably other front office staff and/or his teammates — for getting injured. Buchholz hopes to return to pitch in September.
It’s saddening to me, and indicative of the general anti-labor culture in sports, that a player feels obligated to apologize for getting injured on the job. Injuries are nothing new for Buchholz, which might have factored into his decision to apologize. Red Sox fans got on his case quite a bit over the years for his propensity to land on the disabled list. But it wasn’t like Buchholz was taking unnecessary risks; he simply did his job, which entails doing a lot of unhealthy movement with his arm. Buchholz owes no one an apology.
Buchholz isn’t the only player to have apologized for getting injured. Outfielder Hideki Matsui apologized to the Yankees in 2006. Starter Masahiro Tanaka apologized in 2014. Twins reliever Glen Perkins apologized last year. Even Madison Bumgarner sort of apologized for suffering injuries riding a dirt bike on an off-day, saying “It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made.” Because god forbid an athlete has interests and hobbies outside of his vocation.
Players are brought up in a sports culture that allows exorbitantly wealthy owners to bilk the players — laborers — at every possible turn. They’re mostly underpaid and poorly taken care of in the minors. If and when they reach the major leagues, their salaries are intentionally depressed for six years and their service time is toyed with (just ask Kris Bryant). Buchholz endured that and then endured the criticism that comes with having been a hyped prospect who mostly failed to live up to expectations. He’s gone above and beyond what he needed to do to have a successful career as a professional baseball player, even if it wasn’t as much as fans or front office personnel would have liked.
Update (5:22 PM ET): Thames is dealing with left hamstring tightness. Manager Craig Counsell says it’s “not a big deal,” Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Brewers first baseman Eric Thames left Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Reds in the top of the eighth inning with an apparent injury. Thames took his position to start the inning, but was replaced by Jesus Aguilar. Thames had flied out weakly to center field to end the previous inning, so perhaps something happened while he ran that out.
The Brewers should provide an update shortly on the exact nature of Thames’ early exit. Needless to say, losing Thames to the disabled list would be a huge blow to the 11-11 Brewers, as he entered Wednesday leading all of baseball in runs (25), home runs (11), slugging percentage (.929), and OPS (1.411). Thames was 1-for-3 with a single, a pair of walks, and two runs scored before leaving.