Notes: Catalanotto eyeing rebound

Notes: Catalanotto eyeing rebound

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Frank Catalanotto sported a fu manchu moustache for Photo Day on Sunday. It's a different look from what he had last year, but anything is better than last year for Catalanotto.

"It was just a terrible season," Catalanotto said. "There's no other way of putting it. I got off to a bad start and had a tough time trying to recover. I had a pretty good August but not enough to overcome the first part of the season. It was disappointing. I never had to go through a season like that where every single at-bat was a grind."

Catalanotto, after signing a three-year, $13 million contract in the offseason, hit .140 in April, then ended up on the disabled list with right biceps tendonitis. When he came off the DL three weeks later, he was more like his old self and hit .285 the rest of the way, including .406 in August.

But he still ended up at .260, the lowest batting average of his career.

"I took it home with me at nights," Catalanotto said. "It was tough to sleep. I felt like I had let the team down and not lived to up to my contract."

He is determined to not let that happen again and the Rangers are determined to let him have that chance. He goes into the season as the Rangers' designated hitter and leadoff hitter against right-handed pitching.

That's how it finally came out after there was some doubt at the beginning of the offseason regarding where Catalanotto would play this year. Even he admitted he had no idea.

"My thought process was whatever position they add, they'll play another position," Catalanotto said. "If they get a big bat to play first base, I'll most likely be in the outfield. If they get an outfielder, I'll be at first base. If they get both, I'll probably be at DH. They got both. That's fine. At this point in my career, I know in the course of a year that injuries happen. As long as I'm swinging the bat well, they'll find a spot for me and I'll get my at-bats in some shape or form.

"The bottom line is I want to help the team win games and show the organization that I can still hit and still play. I'm not putting any pressure on myself, but I need to get off to a good start. I know I can hit, there's no doubt about."

Spring Training
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Pace of game: Rangers officials met with Daryl Hamilton on Sunday, the former outfielder who now works in the Commissioner's Office. The discussions revolved around rules, and the pace of the game remains a prime topic of discussion.

The Rangers were told that umpires will enforce the 12-second rule between pitches -- they will once again make a concerted effort to keep hitters in the batter's box and relief pitchers will not be allowed to throw another warmup pitch in the bullpen once the umpire signals them into the game. Transgressors could be subject to a fine.

The Rangers also asked about instant replay and were told it remains a possibility, but only on determining if a possible home run down the line is fair or foul.

Both shortstop Michael Young and pitcher Kevin Millwood were somewhat skeptical of big changes in enforcement.

"We hear that every year," Young said. "If they want to speed the game up, that's fine, but there are times when you have to let the game play itself out. If it's two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and the bases are loaded, you can't have an umpire telling you to get in the batter's box."

Said Millwood, "I don't know what to say about it. I understand some guys take a little too long to throw the ball, but more times than not, the hitters take longer than the pitchers."

Millwood tweaks hamstring: Kevin Millwood "tweaked" his right hamstring while doing his conditioning drills on Sunday. He is still scheduled to make his first spring start on Friday against the Kansas City Royals. Millwood missed most of May last season with a strained left hamstring.

"Hopefully, this is minor," Millwood said. "We'll know more tomorrow."

He said it: "The best thing I've seen in this camp is our young starting pitching: Luis Mendoza, Eric Hurley, Matt Harrison, those guys. Our young starting pitching looks very good." -- Catcher Gerald Laird

Briefly: The Rangers are holding a Minor League minicamp on the back fields to prepare some players for possibly being used in Major League exhibition games, if needed. The pitchers include Tommy Hunter, Omar Poveda, Michael Ballard, Zach Phillips, Beau Jones, Kasey Kiker, Michael Schlact, Doug Mathis and Brennan Garr. ... The Rangers first intrasquad scrimmage will be held at noon MT on Monday on the Nolan Ryan Field, rather than the main stadium. The scheduled pitchers are Matt Harrison, Kazuo Fukumori, Scott Feldman, Jason Davis, Robinson Tejeda, Bill White, Warner Madrigal and Paul Kometani. ... The Rangers went over their pickoff plays on Sunday and manager Ron Washington said they've covered every fundamental in camp. They begin repeating the process on Monday by reviewing bunt plays. ... Shortstop Joaquin Arias (shoulder) is not likely to play the field in an exhibition game until mid-March. Arias continues to progress in his throwing program and Washington said, "His throws are more firm and more confident every day."

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