SARASOTA, Fla. – Taylor Teagarden was scheduled to start his second game of the spring. He’s already ahead of last year. By the end of the first week of games in 2012, Teagarden had injured his back, and his spring training was done.
He didn’t play until after the All-Star break.
“I had a really productive off-season leading into spring. I got a lot of work in to get to where I really wanted to be,” Teagarden said. “I feel fine. Being here last year in Florida, I kind of had the idea of the whole spring schedule and what’s going to be asked of me, what games I’ll play. I can imagine it a lot better.”
As the backup to Matt Wieters, Teagarden knows he’ll be making lots of road trips while the starter makes few.
“The key is finishing strong and getting ready for the regular season,” Teagarden said.
Over the winter, Teagarden continued with his back exercising program, one that he says he’ll have to stay with for the rest of his life.
“I’ve learned so much about things that I should be doing, things I shouldn’t be doing, risk vs. rewards,” he said.
In 22 games last season, he had nine hits, but several of them were game-winners.
“It was special for me because when I get there I want to win the game,” Teagarden said.
“By luck, I was in the mix there offensively to get some of those go-ahead runs in.”
Last year, Teagarden was considered the frontrunner for the backup job, but when he was hurt Ronny Paulino and for a time, Luis Exposito, backed up Wieters. This year, Exposito is back, but Teagarden is Wieters’ understudy.
“Every spring training, I want to play hard, show people what I’m capable of doing,” Teagarden said.
“I know Matty’s the starter, and whenever I’m in there, I’m in there. I don’t like to think it like I’m coasting because I’m just the backup. I like to bust it a little bit.”