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Catchers Hayes, Pena positioned for backup role

Catchers Hayes, Pena positioned for backup role

Catchers Hayes, Pena positioned for backup role play video for Catchers Hayes, Pena positioned for backup role

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals' decision to drop catcher George Kottaras leaves Brett Hayes and Francisco Pena as the two prime candidates to back up All-Star regular Salvador Perez next season.

Kottaras, who appeared in 46 games last season, starting 29, was designated for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for incoming pitcher Jason Vargas.

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A left-handed hitter, Kottaras averaged just .180, but had five home runs and four doubles among his 18 hits. He also had a sharp eye, drawing 24 walks in 126 plate appearances for a .349 on-base percentage. Defense was supposedly his shortcoming.

"He did a lot better than I thought he would do," manager Ned Yost said. "He was always touted as an offensive guy with some pop that could come off the bench and hit a home run for you, but he received the ball far better than I thought I he would. He called great games, he spent a lot of time developing a game plan with our starters every time he caught. He just did a fantastic job. He was a very solid player for us."

But the numbers game caught up with him.

"Hayes did a good job [at Triple-A Omaha], and our scouts liked Pena," Yost said. "Sometimes these decisions get tough."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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