Farrell's plans for Ross, Saltalamacchia still up in the air

Farrell's plans for Ross, Saltalamacchia still up in the air
February 19, 2013, 8:34 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- John Farrell is unsure how to determine playing time between catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross, but Tuesday he made two things clear: He's not in favor of a strict platoon, and he would like to stay away from one catcher or the other being designated as a specific starter's personal receiver.

"I haven't gotten to a point where Ross is going to handle one guy in the five (starting pitchers),'' said Farrell. "There will be a natural break to it -- Ross will catch a day game after a night game. Certainly that's going to come into play.

"But if there are favorable matchups, we'll certainly take advantage of that.''

Over the course of his career, the switch-hitting Saltalamacchia has had far more success hitting left-handed (against right-handed pitching) than he has hitting right-handed (against left-handed pitching), with a career OPS of .774 against righties compared to .591 against lefties.

Last year, of the 25 homers Saltalamacchia hit, all but one came off right-handers.

Ross, who hits right-handed, has more even splits over his career, with a .771 OPS against righties and .764 against lefties. Last year, he fared better against righties (.818) than lefties (.712), but as recently as 2010, he had an .886 OPS against lefties.

"To sit here today and say how many games eacn guy is going to catch is probably a little premature,'' said Farrell. "I want to be careful here -- we're not outlining a platoon. Salty will be our lead catcher right now.''

But, stressed Farrell, Ross will get his share of playing time.

"The one thing we know going into this year,'' the manager said, ''is that David is more capable than being just a traditional backup catcher, where it's 35-40 games. There's more there, so there isn't 'X' number of games earmarked, saying, 'Hey, this is what it's going to be,' or 'X' number of games per week.''

Farrell said he's open, down the road, to pairing a particular catcher with starter if results dicate.

"We'll see how that unfolds and if certain guys work better because of rapport,'' said Farrell. "But we want all our catchers to be able to throw to both catchers. I don't want it to get to the point where there other reasons why a guy might want to work with a particular catcher.

"As of today, it's not designed that Ross would catch Jon Lester every time he goes to the mount. We're not going into the season with that thought right now. As we get through the first 40-50 games, we'll probably get a read on where some comfort battle might exist with a certain battery. But I don't want to go into the season saying 'This is what's it's going to be' right yet.''