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New catching guru excited to join Padres

Westman followed Preller to San Diego, emphasizes good stance

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Ryley Westman's voice almost drips with passion when he talks about catching and the mechanics of the position, from the smallest nuances to the big-picture elements that go into the job.

Westman, the organization's first-year Minor League catching coordinator, is in big league camp this week working with the seven catchers on various drills to help prepare them for the upcoming season.

Westman, who had been with the Rangers in various capacities since 2009, was hired by first-year GM A.J. Preller, who also came from Texas. The move was an easy one, Westman said.

"It was an exciting sell," Westman said. "I've seen that man [Preller] work and he's relentless. And as a coach, you want to be challenged. A.J. is a guy who is going to challenge you and make you better. And knowing you're going to be held to that standard is going to make you better."

For now, Westman is intent on helping the catchers in camp get better, along with Double-A manager Jamie Quirk and Padres bullpen catcher Justin Hatcher.

The team no longer has A.J. Hinch, as he now manages the Astros. Hinch, the former assistant general manager of the Padres, played a pivotal role in helping the catchers last spring, especially in terms of framing pitches.

So what is Westman specifically working on?

"The biggest thing, if you're taking a generic catcher, is to try to put them in the best, physical stance. If you're not in a good athletic position, it's going to be difficult to get to a 95 mph pitch that's coming at you with velocity and late life," Westman said.

"We're also trying to rep as many drills with these guys that will challenge these guys to get under the low ball, control a hard fastball and be able to beat that hard breaking ball that has late life and to be able to stick it and get underneath it."

Westman has a lot to share with the catchers in camp and has found them very amendable to what he's had to share so far.

"It's a learning position and you can never learn enough about it," he said.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter.
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