Results tagged ‘ Jarrod Saltalamacchia ’
After leaving camp for a couple of days for a personal reason, slugger David Ortiz was back to work on Saturday. In fact, manager John Farrell said that today is the start of the next level in Ortiz’s rehab program — he will do all baseball activities. Ortiz, who is coming off a of a right Achilles injury, had been spending a lot of his time doing agility work.
Today will mark the second time Ortiz has run the bases. He also ran on Wednesday before his temporary leave from camp. Manager John Farrell estimates that the slugger will play in his first Grapefruit League game “at the end of this upcoming week”.
With Mike Napoli returning last night, that means the Red Sox can finally play with their full lineup, minus Shane Victorino, who will be at the World Baseball Classic.
In other news, Jarrod Saltalamacchia will sit out today with lower back stiffness. He seems to get that a couple of times a year — probably just the nature of being a catcher.
Daniel Bard will have a side day today, and then throw in a game on Monday.
Victorino will lead off today in a 1:05 p.m. road game against the Twins and then fly to Arizona tomorrow to join Team USA.
It all seemed so simple at the All-Star break. The Red Sox would get Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford back to start the second half and go on a nice little run. Then Ben Cherington’s trade strategy would be simple. He would add a piece or two to help the Red Sox get that extra push for their pursuit of a playoff berth.
And like clockwork, they ripped off five wins in their first seven games, the last of those five a thrilling win on a Cody Ross three-run walkoff shot.
How many games have the Red Sox won since Ross got bathed in a splash of Gatorade? That would be zero. The Sox have lost four in a row to fall 10 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the American League East, and four behind the A’s for the second Wild Card spot.
So now what does Cherington do?
“I mean, we hope not,” Dustin Pedroia said, when asked if the Sox could become sellers by July 31. “That second wild card, it could come down to the last week of the season. I was talking to Gary Tuck on the bus. He tells me every year, ‘Look at the standings Sept. 15 and see where you’re at.’ Usually every year, I remember 2010, we had half of our starters hurt and we look up Sept. 15 and we’re still there. We’ve got to keep fighting. That’s our mindset.”
But Cherington has to protect the Red Sox both this year and going forward. To help this year’s team, he might have to mortgage a future trip. And he must ask himself in that case: Has this team justified giving away future chips for?
There is always added tension in a clubhouse at this time of year, as rumors make their way from team to team. Almost to a man, the Red Sox say they aren’t thinking along these lines.
“All we can focus on is going out there and playing the game today,” said Adrian Gonzalez. “That’s all we can control. That’s what I’m pretty sure everyone feels in here. We’re not focused on the trade deadline. I don’t even know what today is to be honest with you. Actually I do know. today is the 23rd. that means it’s my daughter’s eight-month birthday. That’s the only reason I know what today is.”
Cherington is fully aware of the date. Back in 1987, the late Lou Gorman released veterans Bill Buckner and Don Baylor, and let the kids – from Ellis Burks to Mike Greenwell to Sam Horn to Todd Benzinger to John Marzano — play for the rest of the season.
Could Cherington take a similar approach this year with prospects like Ryan Lavarnway and Jose Iglesias and unload a few veterans?
The Red Sox are likely going to determine his path with what they do on the final five games of this crucial road trip through Texas and New York.
“It’s the same mood,” said Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “We’re trying to win. We’ve got to go out there and battle. We’ve just got to continue to do what we do best, and that’s stay in there and grind. We’ve got to pitch better. We’ve got to play better. We’ve been playing decent baseball since the break. Obviously, the last homestand wasn’t great, but other than that, we’ve been playing all right.”
To become a factor in 2012 — and to buy instead of sell — the Red Sox need to start playing better than all right real soon.
David Ortiz, on the notion that Varitek was a quiet leader: “He did say a lot. He did. He just always found the right moment to say it, you know what I’m saying? Tek was somebody that I think this organization is going to need forever, especially now that he’s going to retire. I think he’s the kind of person this organization needs to keep very close. This is a guy who does nothing but add things – good things and like I say, it was an honor for me to be his teammate. I learned a lot of good things from Tek. One of the most important things from Tek was the hard work. He based his whole life on working hard and making sure that you were Ok. His preparation was so good, it was ridiculous. He was a guy that as long as I watched him play, he wanted to do well, he wanted to do good, he wanted to be prepared for that.”
Dan Duquette, the man who brought Varitek to Boston with one of the greatest trades in team history. “We were looking for a catcher. Everybody in the business new Jason Varitek because he was drafted twice in the first round. Did we know he’d be with the Red Sox for 15 years and lead the team to two championships? No. but to his credit, he had all the skills and he deserves all the credit for the great work ethic that he developed. His tenacity as a competitor. This kid, whenever we went into Yankee Stadium, he always had a big game. He always did something to help the team win on the big stage.”
Clay Buchholz, who threw the third of the record-setting four no-hitters Varitek no-hitters Varitek caught in his career. “There were a couple times, early in the game I shook off him a couple times and had a couple missiles hit. They were caught. But after that it was just I’m going to throw what he puts down. The game started speeding up on me a couple times and I remember him calling timeout, running out there, telling me to take a couple deep breaths, throw a pitch down and away and get a ground ball and get out of the inning. That’s what I’ll always remember about him. He was always the guy that could calm you down when things started to speed up.”
Jarrod Saltalmacchia, who absorbed Varitek’s lessons last year and will take over behind the plate. “Just the way he went about his business, watching him –– it wasn’t even in the clubhouse –– I could see from across the field, how people looked at him, how people respected him. So you definitely look up to a guy like that.”
Josh Beckett, who never wanted anyone but Varitek catching him since arriving in Boston in 2006. “I loved working with him. I’ll answer that part first. I’ve never had a catcher before that who I felt like cared more about what wanting me to be successful even before he wanted to be successful. He’s going to be missed a lot in the clubhouse and on the field.”
Bobby Valentine will never get to manage Varitek, but he has a strong grasp of what he meant. “From afar, he was everything you wanted a guy who wore a ‘C’ to be. He was a man’s man. He was a big hitter when needed. He was the leader of a pitching staff. He was able to beat up Alex [Rodriguez]. All that stuff is good stuff. He was exactly what he was supposed to be.”
Derek Lowe, who was traded to Boston along with Varitek some 15 years ago, viewed his catcher as a human security blanket. “It was hard to leave [Boston],” Lowe said. “One of my biggest fears when I left to go to Los Angeles was to leave Varitek. I had not shaken him off in years. You just pitch. You throw whatever he says. And I think a lot of times it’s easier that way, because all you’re doing is reacting to what he’s putting down. You don’t have to think, really, about anything. I think that was one of the biggest things when I left. It was like, ‘Whoa, I’m going to have to start doing more of this stuff on my own.’ If you ask a lot of people, you’d be amazed at how many people, that even spent two or three months in Boston, say Varitek is the best catcher they’ve ever thrown to. A lot of those comments, clearly, he never hears. But to have that many people say this guy is the best, and we’re talking about well accomplished guys, he should be proud of the stuff he’s been able to do. “
It was the third game of the season, a day game after a night game, and manager Terry Francona was asked if he had thought about giving Jason Varitek his first start of the season.
Francona’s answer that day was, “We’re trying to get Salty going a little bit here.”
More than three weeks later, Saltalamacchia hasn’t been able to get into a rhythm and now Varitek is starting between two to three of every five games.
Sure, the Red Sox want Jarrod Saltalamacchia to gain some confidence. But thanks to a 2-10 start, they spend tonight at last in the position to get back to .500.
So Francona finds himself balancing the short term vs. the long term. Right now, Varitek seems to be a better short term answer. Coincidence or not, the club is 6-2 when he catches and 4-9 with Saltalamacchia.
Will Saltalamacchia be able to get his confidence back enough so that he can play more regularly?
The story is still evolving, and one of the more interesting ones to watch. Varitek also hasn’t been able to get anything going offensively, but there’s no doubt that he has done a strong job handling the pitching staff.
Tonight, the Red Sox open a four-game series in Anahiem, where J.D. Drew will lead off, Jason Varitek will catch and the scorching-hot Jed Lowrie will be in the lineup for the sixth straight day.
Varitek and Saltalamacchia will share the catching position this weekend — each guy starting twice.
Prospect Ryan Kalish injured his shoulder today for Pawtucket. At this point, it doesn’t appear to be serious.
Matt Albers is back in the bullpen, activated after a minor lat injury. Alfredo Aceves went back to Pawtucket, where he will be stretched out as a starter.
Headed to the park with an 0-4 lineup, the Red Sox have made one change to the lineup tonight, giving captain Jason Varitek his first start of the season behind the plate.
It is adverse moments like these when the Red Sox probably benefit most from still having Varitek around. He has a way of holding the team together, particularly the pitching staff.
Red Sox starters are 0-for-4 in quality starts, and perhaps Varitek’s presence can help Daisuke Matsuzaka change that trend tonight.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia is clearly struggling at the plate right now, and he’s probably feeling the burden of what is taking place from the mound, so his day off is well-timed by manager Terry Francona.
According to research done by ESPN, no team has ever won the World Series after going 0-4. I wouldn’t read much, or really anything, into that stat. For starters, there aren’t a ton of teams that get off to 0-4 starts, and even less with the caliber of players this roster has. How many World Series teams have had at least one four-game losing streak? I would venture to say, almost all of them.
Major League managers don’t worry about the same things as the general public when it comes to Spring Training. For example, the fact that Daisuke Matsuzaka has given up 10 earned runs over his last two Grapefruilt League starts isn’t keeping Terry Francona awake at night.
“I’m not real concerned about anyone in camp,” Francona said. “We want to leave here healthy and have guys feeling good about themselves. I haven’t looked at anyone’s ERA. I know Daisuke got hit around a little bit the other day. I know if we took Daisuke out of the rotation tomorrow, I wouldn’t want to play for me. We’ve got to let these guys get ready.”
Matsuzaka will take the ball on Tuesday afternoon against Victor Martinez and the Detroit Tigers.
The Red Sox look forward to seeing Martinez again. In particular, Francona looks forward to seeing Martinez’s son Victor Jose, who was a regular in the clubhouse throughout last season.
“I’m actually looking forward to seeing Victor Jose. I’m hoping he’s going to be there. If you see a little kid walking around naked wearing shower shoes, that’s Victor Jose,” laughed Francona.
As for Victor Jose’s dad, the Red Sox fully appreciate what he brought to the table during his year and a half as the team’s primary catcher.
“All the things people said about him came true in a hurry,” Francona said. “Great kid, solid professional, really good hitter. That won’t change because he went to another team.”
Jarrod Saltalamacchia won’t be on tomorrow’s trip, but he enjoyed his short time as teammates with Martinez.
“It was fun,” Saltalamacchia said. “The guy plays the game every single day. He never took a day off. He worked hard, loved the game. it was cool to actually see a guy like him do that.”
And once Martinez accepted Detroit’s offer over Boston’s, it opened up a starting job for Saltalamacchia.
“I think it worked out,” Saltalamacchia said. “He went over to Detroit. I don’t know how much catching he’s going to do, but he’s set as far as knowing where he’s going to be for the next four or five years. That’s good for him and obviously it will help me out here.”
As I get ready to snowblow my driveway and sidewalk for the 900th time this winter, I thought all of you might be in the mood for some Red Sox fodder.
Theo Epstein and Terry Francona both provided updates on several areas of the team at Monday night’s town hall event.
How is Dustin Pedroia doing? “Pretty good,” Epstein said. “He went through a period where he was having some pain in a slightly different part of his foot, and doctors determined it was basically a result of having the foot immobile for so long. That was reassuring. It didn’t have anything to do with the fracture or the surgery. He’s healing really well, working out. He’s not wearing cleats yet, but we’re going to be smart about it. We don’t expect him to be limited by the time the season starts.”
The reports on Beckett have been positive: “Very positive,” Epstein said. “He’s been attacking the offseason, working really hard, getting in good shape, doing workouts. He has a personal trainer that he hired. The trainer and Mike Reinold have been in very frequent contact. Mike made a visit recently to see him, as he does with some of the other pitchers. He’s raring to go.”
On the Rays after adding two guys you might have heard of — Manny and Damon. ” Good moves,” Epstein said. “Those are guys that can probably still hit a little bit, to say the least. It makes for some interesting head-to-head matchups. But those guys, the demise of the Rays has been greatly exaggerated. Even before those moves, we never erased them at all from our radar. They’re uniquely positioned to lose some really good players and stay and keep their status as one of the best teams in baseball given the strength of their farm system. They lose Garza, they have Hellickson ready to step in. They lose Crawford, they have Jennings and Joyce ready to step in. They’re going to be really tough.”
Tito on whether Saltalamacchia is finished with boot camp with catching instructor extraordinaire Gary Tuck:
“I think it’s the other way around. Camp Tuck may have finished him. DeMarlo said he went down to check on him, say hi to the Tuckster, wanted to see Salty. He thought it would be running through the motions, but after two hours, he felt bad for Salty. They’ve done a terrific job. I’m really proud of them, both of them. How many guys do you see do that? It’ll be interesting to see where he’s at because obviously it’s an important position for us. We’re showing an awful lot of confidence in him. At the same time, I think it’s kind of neat that Tek’s worked to be at the point he is where we feel good about this. Tek’s probably going to catch more than an average backup catcher does.”
We’ve heard about this scenario for a couple of years, but now it sounds like it will finally happen. Jason Varitek, who made the transition to back up catcher in the middle of the 2009 season, will now become an official mentor for Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Peter Gammons was among those to report today that Varitek is about to re-sign with the Sox for one year at $2 million. This is a different dynamic than when Varitek was backing up Victor Martinez, a star hitter who had already reached veteran status.
Saltalamacchia is 25 years old and hasn’t come close to reaching full potential. He can not only work regularly with catching instructor Gary Tuck on tricks of the trade, but also Varitek. When Saltalamacchia arrived last year, Varitek was focusing on getting his right foot healthy. Now, it can become a true veteran-prospect catching tandem.
Look for Saltalamacchia to get the bulk of the playing time, but Varitek should be a nice fit against a lot of left-handed pitching. Both players are switch-hitters.
It will be interesting to see if general manager Theo Epstein acquires another veteran catcher as insurance this winter in the event that Saltalamacchia has problems with either his production or his health.
One area fans of the Red Sox don’t see is the work that catching instructor Gary Tuck does with Victor Martinez, Jason Varitek, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kevin Cash in the early to mid-afternoon hours, when the stadium is nearly empty.
Manager Terry Francona talked at length about the work done by Tuck, who is perceived by many to be the most renwowned catching coach in MLB.
“I don’t want to say they never take a day off, but they have a rigid schedule that they follow and I love it,” Francona said. “When I was with the Phillies, we used to go out and play the Diamdonbacks and I don’t know who the catching guy was, but I always saw the catchers do this little drill before the game and I thought that’s really impressive. I like it. It seemed to make sense. They weren’t overdoing it.
“And Tuckster has probably taken that to a whole new level, and I love it. You’ve got to have not only the knowledge and the relelnteless personality to get guys out there every day, but he’s good. He’s really, really good.
Tuck is inventive, to say the least. “He’s got all kinds of gadgets and I think he tries to make it somewhat fun or interesting or demanding, but he expects a lot out of them. They do whatever they’re asked, whether they’re scared of him or like him. They do it. He’s done a lot. Victor went through a pretty tough time early, they’ve spent a lot of time together. Victor’s done a hell of a job.
Even 38-year-old catcher Jason Varitek has been known to marvel at the work of Tuck.
“They all do,” Francona said. “It’s unbeliavable. Salty, that’s the first thing he said to me when he came over, he goes, ‘I can’t wait.’ His reptuation’s out there. He doesn’t take days off. He’s kind of relenteless with it. “