KANSAS CITY -- Rangers catchers -- mainly A.J. Pierzynski and Geovany Soto -- entered Friday's series opener against the Royals having thrown out 26.6 percent of attempted base stealers, the fourth best in the league. It's also a significant improvement over 2012, when they threw out 14.5 percent, the lowest success rate in club history.
But the improvement has been more noticeable in the last two months. Since July 20, Rangers catchers have thrown out 14-of-43, a 32.6 percent success rate.
Pierzynski has thrown out 25 percent of attempted base stealers, which would be his best ratio since 2003. Soto, after nailing two base stealers on Thursday, has thrown out 30 percent, which would be the best of his career.
Manager Ron Washington credited the improvement to the work of roving catching instructor Hector Ortiz. He has been in the Rangers organization for eight seasons, including the past two as a catching instructor at both the Major and the Minor League level.
"When he's around them, you can see the difference," Washington said. "He's very good. And he just doesn't come up here, work with them and then leave. He stays in touch with them and watches our games. He's a good analyst and he gets them to apply it. That's a good teacher right there. A lot of people can analyze but can't implement."
Soto was in the lineup for the second straight game on Friday, but Pierzynski served as the designated hitter. Pierzynski has a bruised left hand after getting jammed by a pitch on Tuesday against the Rays. He was still able to catch 12 innings on Wednesday before getting the day off on Thursday. He can catch if needed.
"A.J. is an animal," Washington said. "It certainly won't affect his hitting, he swings at everything anyway."
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.