Mesoraco demonstrating defensive improvement

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Before the Reds' game against the Angels on Tuesday, manager Dusty Baker was asked how catcher Devin Mesoraco was progressing defensively.

During the game, Mesoraco answered the question himself. In the first inning, with Josh Hamilton batting, Mesoraco fired a pickoff throw to second base that nailed Howie Kendrick for the third out. In the third inning, Mesoraco caught Mike Trout attempting to steal second base, also for the third out.

"He's getting better," Baker said before the game. "He's working, not only defensively. He's getting better throwing, he's getting better receiving, he's getting better hitting. When we started last year, there's a lot a catcher has to think about.

"Sometimes, you get overwhelmed with all the things you're supposed to do as a catcher, especially as a young catcher. You just want to see progress, that's all."

Mesoraco, 24, struggled especially with the bat last season as he batted .212 with five home runs and 14 RBIs in 54 games. This spring, he is competing with veteran Miguel Olivo for the No. 2 spot behind Ryan Hanigan.

When asked if he would have kept Mesoraco in Triple-A when camp broke last season if he could have a do-over, Baker defended the decision to keep him in the Majors.

"We were told that Devin was ready by our people that saw him," Baker said. "It's easy to say after the fact you'd do it [differently]. It's the easiest thing in the world to say. We won 97 games even though Devin struggled, which is pretty good. We lacked overall offensive output from our catchers, which we had gotten accustomed to with Ramon [Hernandez] and Hanigan."

Mesoraco was 1-for-2 against the Angels with a fourth-inning single to left field. He is batting .385 (5-for-13) this spring.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.