Twenty-five homers later, Salty still evolving
Red Sox catcher making big strides behind plate as well
BALTIMORE -- When it comes to Jarrod Saltalamacchia and his 25-home run season, the exciting thing for Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine is what the catcher can ultimately evolve into.
"Once he gets his swing adjusted to a certain zone, I think he's going to get a lot more hits," said Valentine. "Those hits will get him on base more and that will make him have a higher on-base percentage. The power is there, he just needs to do a little more with the other at-bats."
Saltalamacchia is hitting just .225 with a .291 on-base percentage.
However, he's provided some big hits for the Red Sox, especially in the late innings.
"A lot of his home runs early in the season were real crucial home runs, real big," said Valentine. "He hasn't hit many when the game has been out of reach, as I remember."
Former Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek would have loved to hear what Saltalamacchia said after hitting his 25th homer on Saturday night, a 4-3 loss for the Red Sox.
"Personal goals in this game, for me, it's tough," said Saltalamacchia. "As a catcher, my importance is the pitcher. If he does well, I do well. It feels good to hit that homer and try and help the team win, but it obviously wasn't enough."
Saltalamacchia has made big strides with his defense this season.
"Going into the season, I think he had the rap that there were a lot of things he couldn't do," Valentine said. "I think there are a lot of things he can do as a catcher, other than hit home runs. I think he works great with the pitchers. I think he has thrown the ball efficiently, even though the numbers show they stole a lot of bases against him. A lot of them had nothing to do with him. He's blocked the ball extremely well."
Saltalamacchia's 25 homers are second in the American League behind A.J. Pierzynki among catchers. He is one shy of Carlton Fisk's team record for homers in a season by a player whose primary position is catcher.