(story courtesy Brewers.com)
The Milwaukee Brewers signed utility man Frank Catalanotto to a Minor League contract on Tuesday, adding a versatile veteran—and another left-handed bat—for organizational depth.
Catalanotto will report to the Brewers' year-round baseball facility in Phoenix for 5-7 days of workouts before he's assigned to a Minor League affiliate, a spokesman said. It's possible that he could eventually replace Brad Nelson on the Brewers' bench if Nelson doesn't hit a hot streak.
Entering this week's series, Nelson, who made his first Opening Day roster by hitting .354 in Spring Training, is 0-for-20 in 18 games. He reached base for the second time this season on Saturday when he drew his second walk.
Catalanotto is a .292 hitter in 12 seasons with three American League teams while playing both corner outfield positions, plus first, second and third base. He spent the last two years with Texas, but was released at the end of Spring Training when the Rangers opted to add Andruw Jones to the roster. Texas swallowed Catalanotto's $6 million salary for this season, so the Brewers would only owe him a prorated portion of the Major League minimum salary for time he spends in the big leagues.
Prior to his release, Catalanotto went 3-for-10 with a run scored for Team Italy in last spring's World Baseball Classic.
He has history with Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, who was Texas' GM in November 1999 when Catalanotto was traded along with Francisco Cordero, Gabe Kapler, Justin Thompson and Bill Hasselman in a blockbuster deal that sent Juan Gonzalez to Detroit. Melvin has since brought Cordero, Kapler and Thompson in for separate stints with the Brewers. Now Catalanotto joins the list.
I think this should be another great move by Melvin. Catalanotto should be a nice addition, and hopefully he'll provide similar to what Gabe Kapler did for the team. Nelson isn't necessarily hurting the team, but he can certainly get better while receiving regular at-bats in AAA.