Teagarden earning stripes with defense

Teagarden earning stripes with defense

OAKLAND -- Catcher Taylor Teagarden had a double and a home run on Friday night, but that's not what had Texas manager Ron Washington excited.

Washington, always with an eye on defense, liked the way Teagarden was moving behind the plate. He liked his energy and quickness, the way he was blocking balls and working with pitcher Cliff Lee.

Washington has been seeing that since Teagarden returned from the Minor Leagues. He has to see it and he emphatically told Teagarden that's what the Rangers need to see while he's up here. Teagarden came back on July 24 when Matt Treanor went on the disabled list with a sprained right knee.

Teagarden was called up over Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Max Ramirez specifically because of his defense.

"I want to see the defense that people have been talking about and since he's been back here, he's shown it," Washington said. "He can receive, he can block and he can throw. Those are the things people say he can do, he's just got to stay on top of it."

Washington said Teagarden has shown it in the past, but not consistently.

"He's beginning to show it," Washington said. "I see a different focus."

Teagarden is still sharing playing time with veteran Bengie Molina. The Rangers also expect Treanor back later this month or by the beginning of September. Teagarden is still not the Rangers' No. 1 catcher. He does have the opportunity to show he can be the Rangers' catcher of the future although that's not an anointment.

"Everybody says Teagarden is the best we've got," Washington said. "I hope he can take it and run with it. But he has to maintain it. He has to do everything everybody else does to keep his job. But if he keeps doing what he's doing, it's not going to be a problem."

It all comes back to finally being the premium defensive catcher that the Rangers have long expected, showing energy and quickness behind the plate and developing a rapport with his pitchers. And do it every day.

"That's what I've been told," Teagarden said. "I get the impression Washington likes to see that, especially on the defensive side, being much more attentive to defense, being quick on my feet, move around more, show more energy ... it's something I've had to improve on over the years. I've been told to work on that and I'm trying to take more pride in that."

He still has to hit. Washington told Teagarden that he can't just completely forget about offense and Teagarden doesn't want to be known as a defensive specialist.

"People tend to categorize players as either defensive or offensive," Teagarden said. "That's not always necessarily the case. At the big league level, you're expected to do both and I believe I can do both. I don't consider myself a defensive wizard. I think I can do both and that's the standard I hold myself to."