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Torrealba hopes to stick in reunion with Rockies


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Many around the Rockies believe it's more than a coincidence that their 2007 World Series trip and their return to the postseason in 2009 occurred with Yorvit Torrealba as their primary catcher.

Some club officials have privately said it was a mistake to let Torrealba -- a firebrand who stands out on a reserved roster -- leave as a free agent after the 2009 season. He joined the Padres in 2010 and helped them to unexpected contention before they fell short. Torrealba also made a World Series trip with the Rangers in 2011.

Now Torrealba, who bounced to Texas, Toronto and Milwaukee last season, has a chance to reunite with the Rockies and hopefully help with a turnaround. Torrealba, 34, is back with the club under a Minor League contract.

"I didn't want to leave in the beginning," Torrealba said. "I decided I wanted to be back here, hopefully end my career here.

"I missed these guys, too. Keep in mind they're awesome in this clubhouse -- [Todd] Helton, 'Tulo,' [Troy Tulowitzki] all the guys, 'CarGo' [Carlos Gonzalez]. But I've got to make the team."

The Rockies have back their two catchers from last season, second-year man Wilin Rosario and veteran Ramon Hernandez, as well as versatile infielder Jordan Pacheco, who caught on a few occasions last year and is in camp with the catchers now.

Rosario's power has made him the incumbent starter, but he struggled defensively and that could reduce his playing time behind the plate. An increased number of Interleague games could allow the Rockies to use him as a designated hitter at American League parks.

Hernandez faces durability questions after missing considerable time last year with left hand and left hamstring injuries, and Pacheco could be needed at his other positions. If Torrealba plays well in camp, it could open the possibility of trading Hernandez to fill other needs.

If Torrealba makes the Rockies, he will have to become accustomed to the backup role. In between the team's playoff appearances, Torrealba battled shoulder problems and Chris Iannetta took over as catcher in 2008. The Rockies' original plan under then-manager Clint Hurdle was to move Torrealba to a backup role in 2009, but after Jim Tracy took over as manager, Torrealba played his way into the starting role.

"Obviously, you're getting older, you don't move the same, you don't hit the same, all you can do is just teach young guys -- that's how you become as a backup catcher," he said. "I never consider myself a backup because I really believe I can do the job playing every day. But there's going to be a year where I have to do it, no matter what. Maybe this is it, this is the year to do it."

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