Twins' backup catcher needs surgery

Twins' backup catcher needs surgery

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jose Morales, who is in line to be the Twins' backup catcher this season, is expected to undergo surgery on his right wrist in the coming days and will miss six to eight weeks, general manager Bill Smith said on Friday.

Smith said the Twins learned a few days ago that Morales was still battling soreness in his wrist -- an injury that had bothered the catcher in the fall and flared up again when he began to intensify his workouts.

"We had him see a doctor in Puerto Rico, and the doctor thought that surgery might be needed," Smith said. "So we brought him to Minnesota this week and he saw our doctors, and they confirmed the diagnosis. We're working now to get it scheduled. We'll get it taken care of and get him back on the road to getting on the field."

A time and place for the surgery have not been scheduled yet.

Morales, a switch-hitter, batted .311 in 54 games with the Twins last year, and he's expected to fill the role as the backup catcher to Joe Mauer for 2010. With Morales set for the role, the Twins allowed veteran backup catcher Mike Redmond to depart via free agency. Redmond signed a one-year, $850,000 contract with the Indians on Friday.

But the Twins have other catching options if Morales takes longer than expected to recover from the surgery, with catching prospects Drew Butera and Wilson Ramos currently on the 40-man roster. The Twins have raved about Butera's defense, and manager Ron Gardenhire said last spring that Butera was ready to catch at the Major League level, although his offense needed some work. Ramos is considered to be one of the top prospects in the club's system, having batted .317 with four homers and 29 RBIs in 54 games at Double-A New Britain last year. Ramos was recently ranked as the Twins' No. 2 overall prospect by Baseball America.

"We've got some depth in our system, which is good," Smith said. "We'll wait to see what the doctors find out when they go in there and do the surgery."

In addition to having Mauer, Butera and Ramos at Spring Training, the Twins will also have catchers Jair Fernandez, Danny Leamann and Danny Rams in big league camp as non-roster invitees.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.