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Backup catcher decision looms before opener

SYDNEY -- The Dodgers have at least one tough roster decision to make before the first game of the Opening Series on Saturday -- backup catcher.

Tim Federowicz made last year's Opening Day roster and spent four stints as No. 1 catcher A.J. Ellis' understudy when not shuttling to Triple-A Albuquerque. But at last year's July 31 Trade Deadline, the Dodgers acquired defensive specialist Drew Butera from the Twins.

For roster purposes, the difference in the pair is this: Federowicz can be optioned to the Minor Leagues, but Butera is out of options and would need to clear waivers to remain in the organization. Keeping three catchers who play no other position is very unlikely.

The likely move is to option Federowicz, keep Butera as the backup, and fill the last roster spot with Cuban rookie infielder Alex Guerrero. Of the three apparent extra position players on the trip (Miguel Rojas and Joc Pederson are the others), Guerrero is the only one already on the Major League roster.

Adding either of the others would require the Dodgers to move somebody off the 40-man roster.

The Dodgers will have some roster flexibility when they resume regular-season play in the U.S. March 30 in San Diego. Outfielder Carl Crawford can come off the paternity list, and the three exempt pitchers (Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Brandon League) can be activated. Josh Beckett will likely be placed on the disabled list because of a bruised hand.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for
Read More: Los Angeles Dodgers, Drew Butera, Tim Federowicz