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Rivera #1 Catcher

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Pujols names rookie Rivera No. 1 catcher

By Tom Gage / The Detroit News

CHICAGO--Manager Luis Pujols isn't going to wait, after all. A day after saying he'd make a decision at the end of the month about naming a No. 1 catcher, Pujols made it. And the winner is rookie Michael Rivera.

Assisting Pujols in his decision was the fact that Mitch Meluskey has a back problem that might land him on the disabled list. White Sox doctors examined Meluskey on Sunday, and their recommendation was that he should fly back to Detroit to be examined by the Tigers' physicians.

In the meantime, Shane Halter was on alert as an extra catcher Sunday in case something happened to Rivera. Nothing did, except for the disappointment of seeing Kenny Lofton catch his would-be home run above the wall in left-center.

Rivera's bat has been impressive, anyway. He's hitting .314 and probably would have been named the No. 1 catcher even if Meluskey's bad back hadn't become a factor.

"I was leaning in that direction," Pujols said. "I'm going to catch Michael more than I have been, four or five games a week. He's been doing a good job.

"His progress has been good and Mitch is still struggling a little bit, now with a sore back. The last three or four games he's barely been able to walk."

Pujols said his decision had nothing to do with Meluskey's game-calling, despite not being happy with the changeup Meluskey called for as a first pitch Saturday to Paul Konerko, who hit it over the fence in left for a grand slam.

"I'm just looking at numbers and I'm pleased with the way Michael is calling the games. He did a great job for me last year."

Pujols was the manager at Double-A Erie last year, where Rivera hit .289 with 33 home runs and 101 RBI

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That's excellent news - except, if Meluskeys on the DL, who's the backup? I really think that trade of Cardona could prove to suck badly. Cardona is an excellent backup. That old dude that we got back doesn't impress me -- he didn't the first time around.

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