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08/30/09 1:35 PM ET
Teagarden knows he must step up
Struggling catcher could lose playing time to Salty, Pudge
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Every once in a while, Taylor Teagarden can muscle up and drive a pitch out of the ballpark. The Rangers catcher has six home runs in 151 at-bats this year, or one home run for every 24.83 at-bats. That's eighth best in the American League among catchers with at least 100 at-bats. Otherwise it has been a struggle at the plate for Teagarden, and it has been worse of late. Teagarden was off on Sunday while Ivan Rodriguez caught for the second straight day. But in his past 13 games, Teagarden has just seven hits in 44 at-bats for a .159 average. He does have three home runs, but also 20 strikeouts. For the season, Teagarden is hitting .192 with six home runs and 22 RBIs. Manager Ron Washington has been giving Teagarden a chance to play lately. But, with the addition of Rodriguez through a trade and with Jarrod Saltalamacchia possibly coming off the disabled list Tuesday, Teagarden understands he needs to take advantage of this time. "This whole year has been a grind for me offensively," Teagarden said. "I can't say I've felt great all year. Wash is giving me an opportunity to play, and I have to make the most of it. Pudge has done an outstanding job, but it's crunch time for everybody. I'm as big of a part of the lineup as anybody. I've got to get it going." Teagarden, who is expected to start on Monday against the Blue Jays, is finishing up his first full season in the Major Leagues, but insisted he is not tired. However, opponents have been successful on 10 of their past 12 steal attempts against him, and his throws may be lacking a little zip. Teagarden threw out eight of the first 19 trying to run on him this season. "It has been an adjustment, but there is no physical fatigue," Teagarden said. "I get in the box like everybody else. There are no excuses." The Rangers are getting ready to have three catchers. Saltalamacchia was 0-for-2 with a hit-by-pitch for Double-A Frisco on Saturday in the first of at least three medical rehab assignments. Saltalamacchia is on the disabled list because Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in his right shoulder was causing pain and numbness in his right arm. The reports from Saturday night were mostly positive, but Saltalamacchia did leave the game with some overall fatigue. Washington said that was not related to the earlier problems with his arm. "The most important thing was he was throwing the ball back to the pitcher with no problems, he threw a runner out trying to steal and he blocked balls well," Washington said. Saltalamacchia is eligible to come off the disabled list on Tuesday, but the Rangers still want to watch him closely to see if he has more problems with his arm. When the catcher is brought back to the Major Leagues, Washington said he will try to find a way to rotate his three backstops through the lineup. Rodriguez will also see time as the right-handed designated hitter. Washington said he does not foresee having to pick one guy to be his No. 1 catcher down the stretch, even if the Rangers get into a do-or-die series with the Angels for the American League West title. "We beat the Angels before with Teagarden back there, and we beat the Angels with Salty back there," Washington said. "I'm not going to say one guy will be it. Everybody here has been a part of this, and I'm going to keep going with it. I'm going to use all three guys. We're going to win this together or lose it together."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.