SURPRISE, Ariz. -- It's only four innings, but for the Rangers, they're a big four innings.
Catcher Mike Napoli got the start on Monday, almost two weeks after his last outing behind the plate in a Cactus League game. This is good development for the Rangers, who had Japanese sensation Yu Darvish on the hill for his much-anticipated third spring start. Napoli has been hampered by some tightness in his left groin, but he worked with Darvish and hit seventh as the Rangers got their expected regular-season lineup on the field for one of the first times this spring.
Rangers manager Ron Washington said he'd ease Napoli back into the job, avoiding having Napoli catch on back-to-back days.
"We'll probably DH him tomorrow and then we'll come back and catch him," Washington said. "And then the next time he catches it'll probably be back-to-back because now we'll be getting closer to the season."
As far as Napoli starting simply because Darvish was throwing or Napoli becoming a "personal catcher" for the right-hander, Washington said not to read too much into it.
"It's his turn to catch Darvish," Washington said. "He's caught him a lot in the bullpen and it's his turn to catch him today. I think he's got a familiarization with him. He'll catch his share of ballgames, if it's Darvish, [Matt] Harrison or [Derek] Holland, he'll have them. But I'm not ready to say [he's a personal catcher] yet. I don't want to say, 'He's going to get this guy and he's gonna get that guy.' We'll just let that play out.
"He'll catch his share of games, [Yorvit] Torrealba will catch his share of games, some days it'll fall where he [Napoli] has Holland and Darvish and Harrison, and some days he might have one or two of them and [Torrealba's] got the other. I've got two quality catchers and I'm not going to hesitate to use them at any time."
This doesn't mean Washington is averse to having certain catchers work with certain pitchers if the chemistry is right.
"I don't mind doing it," Washington said. "When we had [Matt] Treanor here, our personal guy for C.J. [Wilson], that was his time to catch. That was his one day of the week to catch. But with [Torrealba] and Napoli, and with Napoli being versatile, where I can put him at first base here and there, the day might just come that [Torrealba's] catching and it might be Darvish and Nap's at first base. It depends on the pitcher that day."
Versatile Snyder grabbing Rangers' attention
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Brandon Snyder has shown the Rangers an ability to play various positions, including catcher. He's shown a bit of pop at the plate, with a Spring Training home run. He's working in the outfield with coach Gary Pettis.
In other words, he's doing whatever he can to try to win the opening on the Rangers' bench, and Texas manager Ron Washington has noticed.
"We've certainly seen him at first and third," Washington said of the 25-year-old, who was selected by the Orioles with the 13th overall pick of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. "He can swing the bat. He's a gamer and he has versatility."
Snyder, who was drafted as a catcher, could find himself behind the plate in the bullpen, and it's possible that he could catch in games by the end of camp.
Wash encouraged by Rangers' catching depth
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- It isn't just Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba.
Rangers manager Ron Washington knows a good team needs depth in every area, particularly behind the plate. He likes what he's seen from the team's other receiver on the 40-man roster, Luis Martinez, and he likes what he's seen from non-roster invitees Dusty Brown, Tommy Mendonca and Chris Robinson, too.
Martinez, who was acquired from San Diego in a December trade for Minor League pitcher Ryan Kelly, is a defensive specialist who has hit well this spring, carrying a .444 average into Monday's game.
"He's everything that they told us," Washington said of Martinez. "He receives well, he can throw the baseball very well, and he's been swinging the bat well. We have a lot of options in camp. Some of those options will be long shots. It doesn't matter how good they do. We're more or less an established club. But we've got plenty of options. If someone goes down, we know there's people we can go get.
"[Catching is primarily about] defense and getting pitchers through innings. And he does all of that. We've done a good job this year of stockpiling catching. Robinson, Brown ... they've all done a good job."
The Rangers announced seven more cuts Monday, optioning right-handers Neil Ramirez, Justin Miller and Cody Eppley along with left-hander Martin Perez to Triple-A Round Rock while optioning righty Jake Brigham and lefty Miguel De Los Santos to Double-A Frisco and righty Roman Mendez to Class A Myrtle Beach.
Outfielder Brad Hawpe was scratched from Monday's game after experiencing tightness in his left hamstring on Sunday in Maryvale.
Catcher Yorvit Torrealba got the day off Monday after being scratched from Sunday's lineup in Las Vegas because of lower back stiffness. The Rangers listed him as "OK."
Outfielder David Murphy has hit safely in 10 of 11 games this spring and has reached safely via hit or walk in all 11 of his games.