Jason Varitek was a tough act to follow. The former Red Sox captain was revered by fans and had the utmost respect from members of the Red Sox pitching staff. He left Jarrod Saltalamacchia big shoes to fill, but the young switch-hitting backstop has taken well to being the go-to guy behind the plate.
On Tuesday, Jon Lester said he has noticed how Saltalamacchia has run with his new role this season now that Varitek is out of the picture.
"He came to us with a big name -- no pun intended," Lester said of Saltalamacchia. "He had a big reputation for who he was as a catcher and offensive player and I think now he's just trying to -- not trying -- I think now he's just feeling comfortable. He knows his role.
"He knows you know, as much as 'Tek helps, I think having him not here helps, as well. You know, you don't have that presence breathing down your neck. Like I said, obviously it's nice to have 'Tek here, but I think for Salty to get out from underneath that shadow and now it's his pitching staff and he's done a great job."
The Pablo Sandoval redemption tour is underway as the former World Series MVP tries to revive his career after two disastrous seasons with the Red Sox organization.
In an interview with ESPN Deportes, he admits to being “complacent” during his first two seasons in Boston after signing a five-year, $95 million deal.
"My career had fallen into an abyss because I was so complacent with things that I had already accomplished," Sandoval said. "I did not work hard in order to achieve more and to remain at the level of the player that I am and that I can be."
After dealing Travis Shaw to the Brewers, Sandoval is expected to be the Red Sox primary third baseman in 2017.
"I am not taking anything for granted," he said. "I am here to work hard. I'm not thinking about the position or not. I am starting from scratch, and I am here to show what I can do on the field."
The 30-year-old says he’s following a “really strict routine” this offseason, and it shows. In a recent photo, Sandoval appears noticeably thinner. Sandoval says his wife giving birth to “Baby Panda” has served as inspiration.
"Watching 'Baby Panda' grow up and that he gets the opportunity to see his father play in the majors for seven, eight more years, to get back to the success I had, that's my motivation every day," Sandoval said. "The people that I surround myself with now and my family, they are the key to my success. This has been a life lesson."
Could John Henry sell ownership of the Boston Red Sox anytime soon, or does he want to keep winning? Shaughnessy, Merloni, and Tanguay debate.