Saltalamacchia, Teagarden to compete

Updated: February 18, 2010, 6:53 PM ET
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington wants to see Jarrod Saltalamacchia emerge from spring training healthy. If he does, he likely earns the everyday job at catcher.

But Taylor Teagarden will get a chance, too. Saltalamacchia comes in with more experience, but it's a competition and he understands that.

"I want to earn the No. 1 job," Saltalamacchia said. "I'm going to do everything I can to win the job."

Veteran Toby Hall was brought in for insurance should Saltalamacchia have health issues this spring. General manager Jon Daniels said it was possible that one of the catchers ends up in Triple-A Oklahoma City.

"It's whatever is best for the team," Daniels said.

Saltalamacchia said Thursday that he's feeling good. He's not 100 percent yet, but pronounced himself "close." He was scheduled to throw to bases for the first time since he was shut down in December after experiencing discomfort in his shoulder and arm at winter ball.

Saltalamacchia was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and had surgery in September.

Washington said he was pleased with the job Saltalamacchia did for the first two months of last season.

"Until he got hurt, then things started bothering him," Washington said. "The injuries cropped in and things started bothering him and he went downhill."

Saltalamacchia finished with a .233 batting average with nine homers and 34 RBIs in just 84 games in 2009. Teagarden hit .217 with six homers and 24 RBIs. But Washington said he's more focused on what they do defensively and with the pitching staff.

"It's what I've always preached I've wanted to see from my catchers: handling the pitching staff, getting them through innings, helping through bad times," Washington said.

Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

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