GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The roots of Geovany Soto, current White Sox mentor among the catchers, took shape 12 years ago as a bourgeoning National League Rookie of the Year Award candidate under the tutelage of Henry Blanco while with the Cubs."That was a very important piece of my success," Soto
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The roots of Geovany Soto, current White Sox mentor among the catchers, took shape 12 years ago as a bourgeoning National League Rookie of the Year Award candidate under the tutelage of Henry Blanco while with the Cubs.
"That was a very important piece of my success," Soto said. "He helped me so much. I was young and didn't know what to expect in the big leagues, and he got me over the hump.
"It wasn't easy in Chicago on the North Side, playing the day games. It was such an important role that now I remember in my career. I want to be like him, helping younger guys, because it was so special to me. I want to return the favor to the baseball world, if you will.
"We put pressure on ourselves to do good," Soto said. "My job is mainly to take pressure off them and make them enjoy it, keep it loose."
Soto stands in the midst of his second stint with the White Sox after hitting .219 with nine home runs and 21 RBIs in 2015. The right-handed hitter will share time with left-handed-hitting Omar Narvaez, and Kevan Smith made his presence known with a strong camp.
Those backstops, along with Zack Collins, the White Sox No. 6 prospect per MLBPipeline.com and catcher of the future, have benefitted from Soto's wisdom. At age 34, he's now the Blanco of this South Side crew.
"I don't take offense to that. To the contrary, I've been blessed to be in the game so long and feel proud to have done that," Soto said. "I'm the older guy helping all the young guys and trying to get them through what Henry Blanco got me through. You feel very grateful for Henry Blanco, and I'm trying to do the same thing.
"All the staff here is wonderful, and they are willing to work and help you in every way. I feel blessed with the opportunity they gave me, and I'm willing to do anything with any pitcher or catcher, and a little bit more."
Focusing on the pitchers becomes Soto's top priority.
"I've always said I am a catcher first then a position player or even a ballplayer," Soto said. "I really take pride in catching and getting pitchers through games. Everything else for me is a plus."
"It's been good to have someone with that experience," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "Obviously he's been able to do the things he's done over the course of his career and just basically be able to bring it to the table and use in practical terms for all of us."
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.