Rangers shake up catching situation

Rangers shake up catching situation

ARLINGTON -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden are back to sharing the catcher's position.

Only they are doing it at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Matt Treanor is now officially the Rangers' No. 1 catcher, and Max Ramirez is his backup.

The Rangers announced before Tuesday's game that Teagarden has been optioned to Oklahoma City and Ramirez has been called up to the big leagues. Ramirez was in uniform for Tuesday's game against the White Sox.

Saltalamacchia is also at Oklahoma City on a medical rehabilitation assignment. But the Rangers have removed him from the assignment and optioned him to Oklahoma City.

Saltalamacchia has been sidelined since the second game of the season with tightness in his upper back and left shoulder. He has just about recovered from that problem, but the Rangers aren't ready for him to return to the Major Leagues.

By optioning him, Saltalamacchia must stay down a minimum of 10 days unless there is an injury.

"We've been struggling at the catching position in the early going," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "We want to give Taylor an opportunity to go down and get right. With Jarrod, he's felt good the last few days. We just want to see him go and play ... get consistent playing time, consistent repetitions, play regularly; also with the mindset not to worry if today is the day he's coming back. Free him up to go down and play regularly and not worry about anything."

Daniels said Saltalamacchia will do the majority of the catching at Oklahoma City for the next 10 days while Teagarden is his backup. If both are there longer than 10 days, the Rangers might consider moving Teagarden to Double-A Frisco so they can both play regularly.

Ramirez was hitting .289 (13-for-45) with no home runs, three doubles and four RBIs in the 13 games for the RedHawks. He has played 10 games at catcher and three at designated hitter. He is hitting .343 over his past 10 games.

He has long been considered a strong offensive prospect who still needed work on his catching. But the Rangers believe he is ready to at least be Treanor's backup at the Major League level.

"The general consensus is his catching made strides this spring," Daniels said. "This is a guy who finds a way to get on base and give a good at-bat. We're looking for him to do the same thing here, catch and have quality at-bats."

The Rangers also considered Kevin Richardson, who is catching at Double-A Frisco. But Ramirez is already on the 40-man roster. He played in 17 games for the Rangers in 2008, hitting .217 with two home runs and nine RBIs.

Saltalamacchia was the Opening Day catcher but went on the disabled list after just two games because of the tightness in his upper back and left shoulder. Teagarden took over but has just one hit in 27 at-bats over 10 games.

Saltalamacchia is 7-for-20 with a home run in six games on rehab assignment with Oklahoma City.

Treanor, who was acquired late in Spring Training from the Brewers, has taken over as the No. 1 catcher and started on Tuesday for the eighth time in 13 games. He was 4-for-9 to start the season but had just three hits in his last 22 at-bats going into Tuesday's game.

Saltalamacchia and/or Teagarden could be back at some point. But right now, Treanor is the Rangers' starting catcher and Ramirez is his backup.

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