This Spring Training has been different from all of the others I've attended in my professional career because I had the opportunity to play and earn a place with this club in 2006.
Consequently, I'm not pressing if I don't get a couple hits right away. There's no panic or worrying about my next at-bat. I'm not looking over my shoulder every time I strike out. Physically and mentally, I can go about my business and concentrate on preparing for April 2.
Actually, this might be the first time I'm confident about having a job since I played for Florida State in 1998. There's just not much security in the baseball industry. Any day can be your last.
It's nice to be coming off a good year for the first time. I was able to establish myself as a big-league catcher last year. So I didn't have to deal with the uncertainty in the offseson. I had the chance to sign a two-year contract instead of thinking about possibly being non-tendered.
Last season all of the struggles I'd been through began to pay off for me. You keep working at this game all of the time and sometimes it takes time. I worked really hard in the 2005-06 offseason and finally I had a really good camp with San Diego.
The World Baseball Classic was actually a big help for me. Mike Piazza went to play for the Italian team, which gave me an opportunity to catch a lot more innings and get a lot more at-bats than I might have otherwise been given.
My confidence just built from there. I had a good spring and some of the things I'd worked on during the offseason began to translate onto the field. When I got over here (to Cincinnati), I was told I was going to catch Bronson Arroyo. So just knowing I was going to catch every fifth day gave me the ability to prepare accordingly.
Our general manager, Wayne Krivsky, and our manager showed a lot of confidence in me, too. They took a chance by playing me ahead of people who were listed in front of me and making some money. You can't prove yourself if you don't have a chance. In Los Angeles I was behind a really good catcher in Paul Lo Duca, and it was a shaky situation in Pittsburgh.
The Reds showed a lot of confidence in me and let me go play. I knew I could produce some runs if I had the chance. My first year in the league I had about 120 at-bats and hit 10 home runs so I knew I had the capability -- given the opportunity.
If you're not used to coming off the bench it's real difficult to get your timing. Every pitch looks like it's 100 mph. The more repetitions you get, the easier it becomes. So a lot of it was being able to get enough at-bats to begin to feel comfortable.
Hopefully, I can build on that this year by knowing the pitchers better and getting better at-bats offensively. Each day I think I can become a better catcher, too. There's so much you learn from just being out there and playing.
With regular playing time catcher David Ross became a run producer for the Reds in 2006, batting .255 with a .353 on-base average, 21 homers and 52 RBIs over 247 at-bats.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.