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Mesoraco embraces new starting opportunity

CINCINNATI -- Even while playing sparingly the first three weeks of the season, catcher Devin Mesoraco has shown improvement from his struggle-filled rookie year in 2012. Filling in for Ryan Hanigan, Mesoraco entered Sunday with hits in three of the last four games while going 5-for-14 (.357).

Expect to see Mesoraco play regularly now that Hanigan was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday because of a strained left oblique.

"You definitely don't want to see Hani hurt, because he means a lot to the team," Mesoraco said. "But I always felt, and still feel like, I'm an everyday player. If that's what comes of this, I'll jump right in and take care of business."

Mesoraco has also worked well behind the plate with his pitchers. This past week, he caught Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani and Bronson Arroyo -- who gave up a combined three runs over 20 innings.

"Mesoraco is catching better and hitting better," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He just has to control the running game. It's hard to control the running game like Hanigan controlled it."

Batting .212 in 54 games last season, Mesoraco was challenged by not playing regularly for the first time in his life and by the rigors of learning his way in the Majors. His preparation was admittedly not as strong as he wished.

With experience and better understanding, Mesoraco feels like he's prepared himself well for when chances arise.

"I've been working a lot harder and focusing on things I need to focus on during the game," Mesoraco said. "I've done a better job of once we get that third out of the inning, to go in and then focus on my hitting. If I'm not hitting that inning, then I can talk to the pitcher and figure some things out. I've done a better job of compartmentalizing some things to be able to focus on the right stuff."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.
Read More: Cincinnati Reds, Jack Hannahan, Zack Cozart, Ryan Hanigan, Cesar Izturis, Devin Mesoraco, Todd Frazier, Xavier Paul