Garneau won't stop competing in big leagues

Backup catcher believes he has something to prove even after making Rockies

Garneau won't stop competing in big leagues

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Dustin Garneau is gracious about the congratulatory texts sent from outsiders since the Rockies optioned the main competitor for the backup catcher job, prospect Tommy Murphy, to Triple-A Albuquerque. But Garneau knows there is still competition between now and the end of camp -- and beyond.

"Never relaxing," Garneau said Saturday before the Colorado's Cactus League game against the Padres. "I know what's in front of me, but I'm trying not to think of anything but just doing what I can do on the field. I'll keep it as simple as that. People text and call, but all that means nothing. Nothing's been confirmed or said. I have to earn a spot every day, and even if I do make it, I have to earn a spot every day that I'm there."

Garneau, 28, played 22 games in the Majors last season (.157 average with two homers and eight RBIs) after being a 19th-round Draft pick out of Cal State Fullerton in 2009 and hitting every Minor League level twice. With Nick Hundley the only other catcher on the Major League roster with big league experience, Garneau has the inside shot to make the club because of the move to let Murphy have regular playing time at Albuquerque.

Rockies Spring Training information

But the non-roster list includes Jackson Williams, who has caught in the Majors with the Rockies and the Giants. Other catchers in camp are roster member Tony Wolters, who has intrigued Colorado with his ability to play the infield, and non-roster player Ryan Casteel, who also can play first base.

Garneau's offensive numbers have not been good this spring (.182 average entering Saturday), but he has continued the solid approach that led to a .274 average with 15 homers and 61 RBIs in 81 games at Albuquerque last year before his promotion.

Garneau's fundamentals and footwork have held steady. In the first inning Saturday, the Padres' Travis Jankowski had a significant jump on pitcher Tyler Chatwood, but Garneau's throw made it a much closer play than it should've been. Garneau threw out half of the 10 runners who tried to steal against him last season. Catching and throwing is his most marketable skill.

"I've always caught; never played another position," Garneau said. "I pitched a little bit in high school, but from Little League all the way up I caught. Throwing-wise, playing quarterback in football helped me. Catching and throwing are pretty similar release points, and the mental side of being the quarterback and the leader translates to catching, too."

Rockies manager Walt Weiss has a comfort level with Garneau.

"We know him very well; he's been in the organization for a while and he has leadership skills," Weiss said. "He's a very good receiver with very good game awareness."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.