New Rangers C Torrealba not talking loss to Mets

Yorvit Torrealba was signed by the Texas Rangers this winter to

be their starting catcher. That was the same plan the New York Mets

had for him before failing to finalize a $14.4 million agreement

31/2 years ago.

With Torrealba in camp with the AL champion Rangers, arbitrator

Shyam Das ruled Thursday that the Mets had the right not to

complete their three-year agreement with Torrealba in November

2007.

“I’m not ready to make a comment on that,” Torrealba said

Friday. “(My agent) told me what’s going on. I know I lost the

case, but I’m not 100 percent ready to say what happened and what’s

going on. When I find out more of what happened I’ll have no

problem talking about it.”

The agreement signed by the Mets and Torrealba’s representative

said the deal was subject to a physical that was satisfactory to

the Mets. The team concluded it had concerns about his throwing

shoulder, which caused him to miss three months of the 2006

season.

Torrealba then re-signed with the Colorado Rockies, getting a

$7.25 million, two-year deal. The players’ association filed a

grievance against the Mets the following April.

After the Rockies, Torrealba played in San Diego for $1.25

million last season before signing a $6.25 million, two-year deal

with the Rangers to be their starting catcher.

Texas manager Ron Washington has already made it clear that the

plan is for Torrealba to be the starter. Matt Treanor, who shared

catching duties with Bengie Molina the second half of the season,

was re-signed this offseason and the Rangers also acquired

catcher-first baseman Mike Napoli.

Torrealba has been primarily a backup catcher in 669 major

league games for San Francisco (2001-05), Seattle (2005), Colorado

(2006-09) and the Padres.

“That was really hard for me the last few years. It’s hard

because you’ve got to try to know your pitchers but I only could

give my advice on the bench,” Torrealba said. “If you’re behind the

plate you have a different feel for what’s working. … This year,

being the guy, I can focus from the get-go.”

Torrealba hit .271 with seven homers and 37 RBI in 95 games with

San Diego last season. He started 89 games, and the Padres were

53-36 in those games with a 3.14 ERA, the lowest to a catcher in

the majors since the Los Angeles Dodgers had a 2.73 ERA with Paul

Lo Duca behind the plate in 2003.

The only time he has appeared in more games than last season was

113 in 2007, when he helped the Rockies reach the World Series. He

then became a free agent and reached his deal with the Mets before

instead re-signing with Colorado.

At Rangers camp, Torrealba is catching two or three pitchers a

day and plans to work with the entire staff. He talks to pitchers

after workouts to see what their preferences are, and has studied

most of the staff on film.

“Knowing you’re going to be the guy gives me more time to get to

know them,” he said. “It’s hard for any backup catcher because,

like last year with San Diego, I had a really good idea of what

they should do but if you’re not playing, they can be like ‘OK, OK’

or they might listen and then not do it. This makes my job easier

and it makes their job easier.”

NOTES: AL MVP Josh Hamilton and newly acquired 3B Adrian Beltre

were both in camp Friday, a day before their reporting date. With

Beltre at 3B after being guaranteed $80 million over the next five

seasons, the Rangers plan to use Michael Young as their primary DH

while he also plays some at every infield position. Beltre

described himself as sad when he heard Young had asked for a trade.

Beltre said the Rangers will be better with Young and “hopefully

everything works out and we can stay together.” … Hamilton, who

was hospitalized for nearly a week last month with pneumonia, said

he is “feeling good, feeling strong.” He said he was there Friday

to take some swings and get reunited with his teammates.