SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Yorvit Torrealba is pleased with his defense this spring. And why wouldn't he be? He's thrown out four of the six runners who have attempted to steal against him and he's been busy working with new pitchers.
"I'm getting to know Yu [Darvish] and make sure I know what these guys like to throw," Torrealba said. "It's been a good spring from that standpoint. But overall I'd say just OK. I'm not hitting like I normally do."
Understand that in past springs, the ball has jumped off Torrealba's bat. He hit .333 with the Padres in 33 spring at-bats in 2010 and .414 with the Rangers last year (in 29 at-bats). Right now, he's batting .267 in 30 at-bats.
"I think I'm trying too hard," Torrealba said. "My offense has been better in spring the last few years. I need to relax and not overswing."
The catcher knows this is a different spring for him. Last year, he arrived fresh off a two-year contract and was the starter without question. And he caught a gaggle of games in the first half of the season. But when Mike Napoli got hot, manager Ron Washington had to get the former Angels' catcher in the lineup more. In the postseason, Napoli was the starting catcher.
But Washington has repeatedly noted that he must have two catchers in the Texas heat. And the Rangers believe that part of Napoli's success last season was that he wasn't asked to catch all the time, giving him breaks as a first baseman or DH. After struggling in May with the bat, Torrealba bounced back with a solid season. He hit .273 with seven homers and 37 RBIs in 113 games.
"He had a great year and I hope he does again," Torrealba said. "I still have to go out there and do my thing and do my work no matter what. I'll prepare like I'm going to start all the time and then do whatever they need."