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Sunday, March 13, 2011
Yorvit Torrealba helps 'change' things up

By Richard Durrett

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- One thing Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba picked up during those offseason video sessions in front of the television at his house was which pitches his new hurlers had in their repertoire, but didn't really want to throw.

"Spring training is the perfect time to work on those pitches and try to gain confidence," Torrealba said. "For a lot of the younger ones, it was the changeup."

So Torrealba came in to Surprise and decided he was going to do whatever he could to force some of the young Rangers pitchers to throw that change in games.

He saw on video that Derek Holland wasn't afraid to throw his fastball and slider, but didn't do much with the change.

"It was his third best pitch," Torrealba said. "But it's a good pitch for him too. He's thrown it well in bullpens and now we're making him throw it in games.

Torrealba did the same thing with Tommy Hunter the other night, forcing him to throw the pitch in some different counts to get a feel for it. Hunter was working on the changeup more in his session with live hitters on Thursday too.

"We've got guys with good fastballs and good movement on their breaking pitches," Torrealba said. "When you can change speeds and give them the changeup, it really fools you."

Michael Kirkman said he was a little surprised a few days ago to see Torrealba call the pitch to the third batter he faced. Improving the changeup was something Kirkman wanted to do this spring along with getting his curve ball working.

"But I thought, 'Why not? Let's throw the change here,'" Kirkman said. "If he feels the confidence to call it, I need to have the confidence to throw it."

Torrealba hasn't had many pitchers shake him off, even as he gets used to what they are throwing and how to best sequence it in the game. Part of that comes from the fact that Torrealba has tried to talk to his pitchers and get to know them. And the pitchers, especially the young ones, know he has been in the major leagues for a while catching good pitching staffs.

"I've been impressed by these guys," Torrealba said. "They are working hard and pitching well. Everyone is getting ready for the season and staying focused."

That includes the catcher.