With the acquisition of A.J. Pierzynski over the winter, the days of Geovany Soto as the Texas Rangers' starting catcher are probably over, barring injury.
Pierzynski not only gives the Rangers another left-handed bat, but one that hit 27 home runs last year and one that belongs to one of those players that you hate to play against as he's been known to grate at opponents and get under their skin. He's going to be the Rangers' starting backstop.
But Soto still has a very big role on the Rangers heading into the 2013 season as he's set to be Yu Darvish's personal catcher, along with possibly one more start every five games.
Soto caught Darvish down the stretch in 2012 when he was fantastic over his final eight starts after Soto had taken over behind the plate almost exclusively after the Rangers designated Opening Day starter Yorvit Torrealba after acquiring Soto at the trade deadline.
"I think he was a really important factor in my success last half of my season last year," Darvish told ESPN Dallas through a translator. "We had really good communication last year."
Soto knows his role is important, as he'll be a big factor in whether Darvish improves on his rookie season or suffers the sophomore slump that most Japanese pitchers have encountered in the past.
"He's got great stuff and I want to keep him focused, but relaxed on what he's doing," Soto said. "When I go out there and hum or say something and he gives me a weird look, I know I've gotten him out of his mode and he can reset and get ready. He's got all the pitches and knows how to get guys out."