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04/05/08 10:40 PM ET

Melhuse ditches his back problems

Rangers catcher strengthened hamstrings to solve woes

ANAHEIM -- Adam Melhuse did something this winter about the back problems that he has been having the past few years.

He strengthened his hamstring muscles and then won a job with the Rangers as their backup catcher. Now the back doesn't bother him anymore, and he made his first start of the season for the Rangers on Saturday night against the Angels.

"It's kind of hard to explain," Melhuse said. "I never went on the disabled list, so people wonder how I can be hurt. I was a guy sitting on the bench, so how could I be hurt? But I was never healthy enough to do the things that I wanted to do.

"I'd come out of my squat to throw to second and it would be all arm. I couldn't use my legs. Balls that were over the plate I could hit, but pitches inside I couldn't turn on them. It gave me discomfort."

Melhuse thought the back was the problem but found out this winter from a personal trainer that his hamstring muscles only had half their flexibility. He was too tight in the hamstring muscles and that was causing back problems.

That's what Melhuse worked on during the winter at his home in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Instead of taking 10 minutes to stretch the hamstrings, he spent 45 minutes loosening them and then strengthening them.

The result is that he's more flexible behind the plate, he can make stronger throws to second and he can turn on pitches at the plate. He hit a couple massive home runs in Spring Training, showing some of the power he once had with the Athletics.

"From day one of Spring it hasn't been a problem," Melhuse said. "I feel like I have a new lease and a second wind."

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