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Notes: Rox' Torrealba ready to compete

Notes: Rox' Torrealba ready to compete

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TUCSON -- This time, the news that the Rockies were seeking a veteran catcher this offseason didn't mean bad news for Yorvit Torrealba.

Before joining the Rockies in a trade last season, each time it seemed Torrealba was in line for regular playing time, his team would sign someone else as the No. 1 backstop.

Last season with the Rockies was the right place and time for Torrealba, but his shoulder didn't cooperate. He missed the beginning and end of the season, and played in just 65 games. But Torrealba trusted the Rockies to give him another big chance, and once he checked out healthy the club signed him to a $1.075 million deal to avoid arbitration.

The Rockies did get a catcher, but Javy Lopez is in camp to compete for a job rather than push Torrealba out of the catcher's box by merely showing up.

"For me, my big concern was signing me," Torrealba said. "It was completely different when I was with San Francisco and they'd bring in Benito Santiago or A.J. Pierzynski or Mike Matheny. I knew I was not going to play.

"Here, I just need to show them that I can stay healthy all year, and I'm confident I can put up good numbers."

Torrealba batted .247 with seven home runs and 43 RBIs -- the most RBIs for any National League player with fewer than 85 games. He debuted for the Rockies on June 2 and admittedly pressed while batting .185 over his first 16 games, but he hit .266 from July 1 to when he returned to the disabled list Aug. 2.

Manager Clint Hurdle said during the winter he didn't think Torrealba, if healthy, should lose his job because of last year's injury, but Torrealba will have to stay healthy and productive.

Lopez and Chris Iannetta, a rookie who hit well in Torrealba's absence at the end of 2006, also will compete, and Hurdle said he is putting age and contract status aside to "leave camp with our two best catchers." The Rockies hope for a close-to-even split of time between their two catchers.

After total rest for two months and serving only as a designated hitter in winter ball in Venezuela, Torrealba feels healed. He said his throwing velocity isn't exactly where he wants it, but that'll be a project for Spring Training. While eyes will be on his shoulder, Torrealba isn't looking over his shoulder.

"Even when I was a backup, my confidence was at a level that I could pay every day," Torrealba said. "I got hurt last year, but when I did play I did my job. I did what I knew I could do. I try to leave my shoulder problems in the past, and I'm ready to go."

Liking Tucson: Hi Corbett Field in Tucson is the only Spring Training facility the Rockies have ever known, and Hurdle wouldn't mind it staying that way.

A shakeup could occur, however, since the White Sox have signed a contract that allows them to leave Tucson Electric Park, where they share a complex with the Diamondbacks, and move to Glendale (near Phoenix) in a new stadium with the Dodgers in spring 2009. The Rockies have a lease at Hi Corbett Field through 2011, but can leave if the number of teams in Tucson drops to two.

The Rockies have some protection, however, because the Sox' Tucson lease requires them to find a replacement team if they leave before the agreement ends in 2012.

"I like Tucson, and I like the opportunity we have at [this] facility," Hurdle said. "It's somewhat of a reach for a team to have their own facility. Most teams have gone to that dynamic combination of going to a new arena where parks might be more recent, state-of-the-art. But we have what we need here."

On the Rox: Second baseman Jamey Carroll played some outfield last spring and will do so again this time as the Rockies seek ways to keep him in the lineup when Kazuo Matsui starts at second base. It could challenge Carroll's arm, since he has been an infielder his whole career, but Hurdle said Carroll can make up for that with his brain. "What we'll continue to harp upon him is when you go out there, just hit the cutoff man," Hurdle said. "His arm hasn't been stretched out to that degree, but he's a smart guy. He stretches his arm out every day." ... Jeff Baker, who hit with power during a stint in the Majors late last season, has arrived at camp, and he has the proper gloves for the corner outfield spots, third base and first base.

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

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