BOSTON -- After getting a rare three-day break, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia returned to Boston's lineup on the night the club was honoring his mentor, Jason Varitek, in a pregame ceremony.
Entering Saturday's game, Saltalamacchia was hitting just .098 in July, belting just four hits in 41 at-bats. He quickly broke out of that spell with a three-run homer in the second inning, his 18th of the season, which leads all Major League catchers.
It was a good time for Saltalamacchia to take one of Varitek's most frequent messages to heart.
"The importance of the pitchers is obviously No. 1. It doesn't matter what you do at the plate," Saltalamacchia said. "It's more important what you're doing behind the plate."
Varitek drilled the message into the ground over the years that the Red Sox would win if they pitched well.
"At the end of the day, a win is what matters," Saltalamacchia said. "We can't win if the pitchers don't pitch. I'm not here to create all the offense. That's what the other guys are getting paid to do. I'm getting paid to catch and call a good game and get our pitchers through the game, and that's what I take pride in."
Saltalamacchia was out of the lineup for three days, both because of his slump and because the Red Sox faced three straight lefties. Kelly Shoppach has generally started behind the plate against southpaws.
"Two days off was nice," Saltalamacchia said. "Three days off, I would have liked to have played just to get timing down. I'm not going to complain about days off at this time. Any little added extra will help for the long run."