Salty taking uncertain role in stride

Salty taking uncertain role in stride

Salty taking uncertain role in stride
ANAHEIM -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia didn't start behind the plate for the Red Sox in any of their three games against the Angels this week at Angel Stadium.

Though there has been no direct communication with manager Bobby Valentine about his role, Saltalamacchia understands the situation.

The Red Sox have fallen out of contention, and the team is prioritizing development. This is a chance for the organization to watch Ryan Lavarnway and determine whether he can be part of the team's catching solution going forward.

"I mean, it is what it is. I haven't talked to anybody, so I don't know quite what the situation is.," said Saltalamacchia. "You know, I've been in situations like this before -- not exactly like this -- but where playing time gets cut. You know, I think I've learned from that."

In other words, Saltalamacchia -- who served as the designated hitter in Thursday's series finale for the second time in the series -- isn't going to mope about his role.

"It's never easy," Saltalamacchia said. "Obviously I want to play and keep contributing and helping the team out. When I'm in there, I'm going to do the best I can."

Saltalamacchia will be there for Lavarnway, much like Jason Varitek, Victor Martinez and others were there for him over the years.

"You've just got to play," Saltalamacchia said. "The situation is only as bad as you make it. I like Ryan -- he's a good kid. I'm trying to help him out any way I can, just as I was helped out. He's trying to play and make an impression."

As for Saltalamacchia's season, he is hitting .231 with 22 homers and 52 RBIs while gaining more invaluable experience behind the plate.

"On a personal level, I feel good. I feel like I've put some power numbers up," Saltalamacchia said. "I had a good stretch for two or three months where I was doing really well, and then the past month or so I've really just been trying to get back to that comfortable feeling at the plate and at the same time just trying to do my job behind the plate. I've actually felt really good the past two or three weeks swinging the bat and doing the best I can and just trying to get in a routine and get things done."

Valentine appreciates how Saltalamacchia has played this year.

"Yes, Salty has played like a champion. Now that we can do the DH routine, I wouldn't mind seeing Lavarnway a little," Valentine said. "I just don't want to see Salty rotting or not being appreciated for his great effort this year. Salty will probably be catching here real soon. Lavarnway is not going to catch every day is, I guess, what that means."

Perhaps the one disappointment for the switch-hitting Saltalamacchia is that he hasn't had many chances against left-handed pitchers.

Entering action Thursday, Saltalamacchia had taken 294 at-bats against righties, hitting .235 with 21 homers and 47 RBIs. He had just 43 at-bats vs. lefties, hitting .209 with a homer and five RBIs.

Though Saltalamacchia has been better from the left side during his career, he got far more chances as a righty last year, hitting five homers in 115 at-bats.

"I feel like if I had that chance of playing every day and facing those lefties, there's no doubt about it, the home run numbers would be up a little more because I'd have more opportunities and the average could go up too," Saltalamacchia said. "Last year, it was obviously nowhere near the left side, but I was still putting some home run numbers up and RBIs. You just become more of a complete hitter and player."