Washington has plan for catchers

Washington has plan for catchers

OAKLAND -- Manager Ron Washington is planning a new tact with his catchers, starting Sunday against the Athletics.

Washington said he is planning to alternate Gerald Laird and Jarrod Saltalamacchia two games at a time. Laird will catch Sunday against the Athletics and Monday against the Mariners. Saltalamacchia will catch Tuesday and Wednesday, and then it will be back to Laird.

"I'm just trying to get them back-to-back at-bats," Washington said. "It was a matter of how I was going to do it."

Saltalamacchia was in the lineup on Saturday for the fourth time in eight games since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma. Laird started the other four games. It's a tough situation for Washington, because both are considered front-line catchers and both want to play every day.

Laird is considered the better defensive catcher and has more experience working with Rangers pitchers. Kevin Millwood especially likes throwing to him. Saltalamacchia, on the other hand, has substantial potential that the Rangers don't want just sitting around on the bench.

"I'm trying to figure out how to get them both the most playing time," Washington said. "We've got two good catchers; I need to get two of them in there. We'll just see how it goes. At some point it will take care of itself."

Washington faces similar decisions daily at third base, first base and the outfield.

Chris Shelton, a right-handed hitter, was back at first base Saturday, even with right-hander Chad Gaudin on the mound. Ben Broussard, a left-handed hitter, started at first base on Friday, but Washington decided to go with Shelton instead of following the strict rules of platooning.

"Today I just felt good with Shelton," Washington said. "It's not a total platoon. Sometimes I do things with my gut, and I wanted Shelton in there today."

Washington said he's not going with a platoon at third base, either, even though Ramon Vazquez is a left-handed hitter and rookie German Duran is right-handed. Vazquez has started the last two games with a right-hander on the mound, but Washington still wants to use Duran out there against some right-handers.

"I just don't want to put him up against some crafty right-hander that will make him look bad," Washington said. "But I will put him up against some right-handers he can handle."

Duran ended up starting on Saturday anyway when Ian Kinsler was a late-scratch from the starting lineup. Kinsler has been bothered by a sore hamstring the past day or two, and Washington decided to give him a night off.

Then there is Frank Catalanotto, who went into Saturday's game with one at-bat in the Rangers' last five games. He was out of the lineup again on Saturday, as Washington remains committed to a combination of Josh Hamilton, Milton Bradley, Brandon Boggs and David Murphy at outfielder/designated hitter.

"Every day I sit there trying to think how to get Cat in the lineup," Washington said.

Washington may even try to use him at first base.

"I've got to try and get his bat in there somehow," Washington said.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.