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Brewers choose Rivera over Munson

Brewers choose Rivera over Munson

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TUCSON -- Brewers catcher Eric Munson cleared waivers Wednesday and was sent outright to Triple-A Nashville, though Munson had the right to refuse and elect free agency.

Munson was battling for a spot on the team as starting catcher Jason Kendall's backup. That job instead fell to Mike Rivera, who hit .286 in Spring Training games and is regarded by manager Ned Yost as a better defender than Munson.

Rivera's case was bolstered by the fact he spent the last three seasons at Nashville and finished each of the last two seasons on the Brewers roster. He is familiar with many of their pitchers, including young starters Yovani Gallardo, Manny Parra and Carlos Villanueva.

"It's a big relief," Rivera said. "Finally, all the work I did [paid off]. I know they were looking for a little more defense behind the plate."

The Brewers claimed Munson off waivers from the Astros last October, and he hit .333 in Cactus League games while catching and playing first base. If he accepts the assignment to Nashville -- the fact his contract pays $525,000 whether he is in the Majors or the Minors would seem a solid incentive -- Munson would serve as a backup to Vinny Rottino, who was told last week that he would be that team's No. 1 catcher. Munson would also split time at first base with Brad Nelson.

"We didn't make Vinny No. 1 for a week," Yost said Tuesday. "That's the deal."

According to general manager Doug Melvin, Munson was given notice of the decision on Tuesday and had three days to decide whether to accept the outright assignment. Melvin believed Munson planned to give his decision Wednesday night.

If he accepts, Munson will be among the five or six extra players set to join the Brewers in Milwaukee for weekend exhibitions against the Royals at Miller Park, Melvin said. If he declines, the Brewers would have to bring another catcher, and it couldn't be Rottino because he was optioned to Triple-A and is ineligible for further Cactus League games.

Adam McCalvy 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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