Mauer catches Pavano in finale

Mauer catches Pavano in finale

CHICAGO -- The Twins were looking for a way to give Joe Mauer a few more days of rest at the start of the second half and veteran starter Carl Pavano found what seemed like an ideal solution when Drew Butera became his personal catcher.

Pavano and Butera had been paired up in previous starts due to timing and the two had achieved positive results together. So it seemed the pairing of the two would be a good fit for the club, as well as give Mauer an opportunity to a rest his body while he either got a day off or was slotted in as the designated hitter.

But with the Twins getting closer to locking up the American League Central title and the postseason looming, Butera's streak of catching Pavano for 12 straight starts came to an end on Thursday.

Mauer was slotted in the lineup as the catcher for Thursday's series finale against the White Sox, an eventual 8-5 victory, with Pavano taking the mound.

"We've been talking about this for a while, Joe catching him," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Especially when you get to this time of year, we need Joe. He wants to catch him, they've talked and it's just the way it's going to be. He's going to catch him."

There was another reason behind Gardenhire's decision to make the change at this time. With Jason Kubel out of the lineup on Thursday due to a sore left wrist, Gardenhire wanted to play Mauer, who is now hitting .331 on the season, and also keep Jim Thome in the lineup as well.

That meant that Mauer would have to catch so Thome could be the club's designated hitter. It left Butera, who has batted .184 in 39 games, on the bench and switched up the pairing that has been so successful for the club over recent months.

"Drew has done a great job," Gardenhire said. "It's been perfect because we've been able to give Joe those days, DH days, and that can still happen the rest of the way too. Tonight, I want Mauer catching and Thome in the lineup even against [White Sox southpaw starter Mark] Buehrle. We've got Kubel out, so I want [Thome's] bat in there."

That's not to say that Butera won't catch Pavano again. But it looks like the Twins will try to mix both catchers in so that Mauer feels comfortable working with Pavano as well since they'll be paired together in any postseason games.

"Both have to be able to catch him," Gardenhire said. "Mauer can catch him. Believe me, Mauer is fine with him. We've talked about this, that eventually when we get down here in a pennant race real tight and we want all these bats in the lineup, we'd do it. That's where we are at. We're in a pennant race."