Soto assumes top catching duties with A.J. out

Former NL Rookie of the Year moves up depth chart with Pierzynski on DL

Soto assumes top catching duties with A.J. out

HOUSTON -- Rangers catcher Geovany Soto was hitting .212 going into Friday's game with the Astros. But he did have four hits in his last 14 at-bats, so maybe getting more consistent playing time and at-bats will help the average to keep climbing.

That's the situation Soto finds himself in after the Rangers officially placed catcher A.J. Pierzynski on the disabled list Friday. Soto will be Texas' No. 1 catcher until Pierzynski recovers from a strained oblique muscle in his right ribcage.

"It's unfortunate what happened to A.J.," Soto said. "Nobody wants to see that. But I've been working hard and staying in shape and getting my swings when I need to, so that when I do play, I can do the best I can. Obviously the more repetitions you get and the pitchers you see, the better you're going to be."

Soto was the National League Rookie of the Year in 2008, and was the Cubs' No. 1 catcher for most of five seasons before being traded to the Rangers on July 31. He re-signed with Texas on Dec. 3 with the anticipation of getting a chance to be the club's top catcher. But that was scuttled on Dec. 26 when the Rangers signed Pierzynski to be the No. 1 guy. That was made clear from the beginning, and manager Ron Washington has not wavered from it until Pierzynski got hurt.

"That's the business side of baseball," Soto said. "To be honest, I'm a baseball player. I can't focus on the business side. It's been a little weird, but I know my situation. So far my focus is to win games and get back to the World Series. I know it sounds like a cliche, but that's my focus."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.