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Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Catching becomes priority for Texas

By Richard Durrett

INDIANAPOLIS -- General manager Jon Daniels didn't even have catching on his list of offseason priorities two weeks ago. But the uncertainty surrounding Jarrod Saltalamacchia's shoulder has quickly moved it near the top.


Saltalamacchia has been shut down for a month after experiencing discomfort in his surgically-repaired shoulder as he started winter ball in the Dominican Republic last week. That means Daniels and his staff are working on finding a veteran catcher to give the club insurance should Saltalamacchia not be completely ready to start the season. Taylor Teagarden will get a chance to compete for the job, but the club wants to have someone they know can handle the starting role if needed.


"It's such a critical position," Daniels said. "It impacts the pitching staff and how the game is run. We can't take any chances."


Daniels has spoken with teams and agents of various catchers and told them that in a perfect world, Saltalamacchia would be the starter.


"But we're not in a perfect world," Daniels said.


Daniels acknowledged that former Ranger Rod Barajas is one catcher the club is interested in. Jason Kendall is probably another. Manager Ron Washington likes the way Kendall plays the position, and pitching coach Mike Maddux is familiar with him from his days in Milwaukee. Kendall, 35, hit .240 with two homers and 43 RBIs in 134 games for the Brewers last season.


Barajas, 34, batted .226 with 19 homers and 71 RBIs for the Blue Jays in 2009. Other possbilities at catcher: Jose Molina and Yorvit Torrealba.