Barajas takes over behind plate for Dodgers
Rod Barajas understands his role as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ top
catcher is more about what he does behind the plate than with his
Barajas has been in the majors 10 years and it hasn’t been
because of bat.
”My number one priority is working with the guys on the
mound,” Barajas said Saturday. ”Very early in my career, it was
pounded in my head that my job was to work with the pitchers. It
wasn’t what I did offensively.”
He’s a career .239 hitter, though with some power, but has made
only 43 errors in 6,950 innings and has earned a reputation is
solid handler of pitchers.
He played 74 games with the New York Mets before being acquired
by the Dodgers on Aug. 22, 2010. In his 25 games with the Dodgers
late last season, he showed them enough at the plate (hitting .297)
and behind it to earn him a 1-year, $3.25 million deal.
The Dodgers decided in the offseason that the veteran Barajas
was a better fit for the team than two-time All-Star Russell
Martin, who had been the Dodgers’ backstop since his rookie season
in 2006. Martin, now with the New York Yankees, played in a
career-low 96 games in 2010 after suffering a broken hip.
Aside from signing Barajas, the team also signed Dioner Navarro
to compete with A.J. Ellis for the two catching spots on the
Navarro, who was with the Dodgers in 2005-06, is a former
All-Star with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, but has struggled the last
two seasons, playing in just 48 games last year.
”With Rod, I don’t think the position is up for grabs, but we
have a plan,” Mattingly said. ”My main concern is defense,
catching those pitchers. I feel the offense will come.”
The chance in Los Angeles has added meaning for Barajas, who
went to high school in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Fe
”This is a childhood dream of mine, growing up in L.A.,” said
Barajas. ”I loved the Dodgers, so to finally get this opportunity
to put this uniform on for a full season and to help this club
reach its goal of winning a World Series, I’m excited.”
Barajas also is excited about the pitching staff he’s been
The team has five starters who won 10 or more games last season,
including a pair of young stars in Chad Billingsley and Clayton
Kershaw. Mix in veterans such as Jon Garland and Ted Lilly and
Hiroki Kuroda, and Barajas has a lot of talent at his disposal.
”If you are able to stay healthy and pitch, that is the key in
this division,” Barajas said. ”If you can pitch you can have
success and with the guys we have here, we can do something
NOTES: A larger-than-usual group of position players spent part
of Saturday’s workout with first base coach Davey Lopes. Matt Kemp,
Rafael Furcal, Andre Ethier, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Dee Gordon worked
with Lopes on base-running. Gordon, one of the Dodgers’ top
prospects, stole 53 bases last season in Triple A Chattanooga. High
winds and sporadic rain forced the pitchers to throw their bullpen
sessions in the covered cages. All of the teams’ projected starters
threw 40-pitch sessions. One of those starters, Hiroki Kuroda, is
working on adding a curveball and threw a few during his session.
”It looked great today and it’s something we’re going to work on
quite a bit in spring,” Barajas said of Kuroda’s curveball. ”His
ability to be able to throw that curveball is only going to make