BOSTON -- Like the fans who follow the Red Sox, Jarrod Saltalamacchia took notice of the teams signing of fellow catcher David Ross to a two-year contract last month. But he reacted differently than most.
I . . . wasnt thinking too much about it, he said. But when I did see him sign, I was kind of excited. I've gotten to talk to him a few times, and I've also played against him. Obviously I know what kind of guy he is, what kind of player he is. I'm excited to be able to work with him and learn something from him.
Ross, 35, was a seventh-round pick of the Dodgers in 1998 out of the University of Florida and made his big-league debut in 2002. The native of Georgia spent the past four seasons with the Braves. He has also played for the Pirates, Padres and Reds in addition to a brief stint with the Red Sox at the end of the 2008 season.
Saltalamacchia, 27, holds Ross in high regard.
It's basically Im putting him in the same category as having Jason Varitek around again, Saltalamacchia said. A guy who's been through it, a guy that's been around the game. Hes an older guy. I talked to the Braves Brian McCann a lot about him, and he loved him. So I'm excited to work with him. I think he brings that veteran's presence with the pitching staff, with the guys on the team. And its a great guy to have."
Still, the acquisition of Ross inevitably led to speculation that Saltalamacchia, who has been with the Sox since being acquired from the Rangers at the trading deadline in 2010, or Ryan Lavarnway could be dispatched from the Sox.
Ive been through trade talk before and, honestly, you cant control what happens in this game, Saltalamacchia said. You got to go out there and play hard. Obviously I would love nothing more than to stay here. You go out to battle with these guys and I battled with all year last year and the year prior. So Im not going to read into it. Im just going to get ready and prepare like I normally would.
Ive been in the situation before where things can happen. I understand it. But I look at it as an opportunity for me and David to work together, to be honest with you.
Saltalamacchia has talked with new manager John Farrell several times this offseason, about several topics including the catching situation.
Havent talked to general manager Ben Cherington but Farrell just told me, 'Hey, I think Ross is a guy who complements you really well.' Its a guy that I can work together (with), a guy that -- like is said about Tek -- brings that veteran leadership where you can kind of sit back and talk, get back to the basics of the game.
Saltalamacchia is happy to have bullpen coach Gary Tuck, the only holdover from Bobby Valentines 2012 staff, returning. Tuck, entering his seventh season with the Sox, has been the only constant on the coaching staff over the last few seasons.
"He's one of my best friends, so to have him back obviously is going to be something that I wanted from the get-go, Saltalamacchia said. I think it's going to be best for the team, for the bullpen. Having a guy like that is priceless. I know a lot of teams wanted him a couple of years ago and a lot of teams probably wanted him this season. So Im glad hes back.