Saltalamacchia's late-inning heroics not enough

784856.jpg

Saltalamacchia's late-inning heroics not enough

BOSTON -- He's not about to be confused with David Ortiz, but catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia now has two dramatic late-inning homers at Fenway the last two weeks.

Saltalamacchia, who won a game against Tampa Bay on May 26 with a pinch-hit, walkoff homer, delivered in the clutch again Tuesday night when he swatted a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game 6-6 with the Baltimore Orioles.

This one, however, didn't have the same impact, as the Red Sox went on to lose in the 10th, 8-6.

Still, it was hard to not be impressed with Saltalamacchia's growth as a hitter and the power surge he's been on of late.

In his last 20 games, Saltalamacchia has seven homers and 17 RBI and is hitting .349.

"He's been playing great,'' said Bobby Valentine of Saltalamacchia. "I think he's gaining confidence in all aspects of his game. He walks into the clubhouse and exudes confidence . . . He's a confident player right now.''

The homer came off Orioles closer Jim Johnson, who had been a perfect 17-for-17 in save chances this season and had converted his last 25, dating back to last Aug. 8.

"I was facing a good pitcher and I knew he had a good fastball,'' said Saltalamacchia, "so I was just trying to to be ready for it. I wasn't trying to do too much, just put the ball in play and keep the inning going anyway we can.''

The walkoff homer against the Rays on the last homestand didn't necessarily help Saltalamacchia in his approach Tuesday night. But success in those spots can breed more success.

"I don't think you ever think you're going to succeed (in that situation) every time,'' he said. "You've got a guy on the mound who throws hard. He's trying to get you out. He's not going to lay it over the plate for you.''

Saltalamacchia, hitting lefthanded against the righthanded Johnson, hit the ball the opposite way and it just cleared The Wall, settling into the first row of Monster Seats.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter urged the umpires to review the call on replay. They did and ruled that it was indeed a homer.

"I knew I hit it good, but I didn't think it was going to be out,'' said the catcher. "I thought it was going to be off the wall and at least be a double. A cold night like tonight, the ball doesn't carry very well. I was just happy that I hit the ball well, to get it off the wall, get the run in and keep the inning going.''

Dombrowski knows ‘winning the winter’ isn’t the ultimate goal

Dombrowski knows ‘winning the winter’ isn’t the ultimate goal

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md -- In the span on less than 12 hours earlier this week, the Red Sox injected some impact players onto their roster, moves that cost them a large chunk of their farm system but made them the prohibitive favorites in the American League.
    
By adding All-Star starter Chris Sale, power set-up man Tyler Thornburg and first baseman Mitch Moreland (though the Sox have not confirmed the latter yet), the team was remade and became the talk of the Winter Meetings.
     
But Dave Dombrowski knows that "winning the winter'' can be a hollow achievement. It's what happens when the games start that will truly matter.
     
"We feel good,'' said Dombrowski as he got ready to depart. "We feel like we have a better ballclub. We feel like we've helped ourselves. Our guys have done a good job here all week long. So, we feel good about it.
     
"In the winter time, winning doesn't really mean anything. We've had that situation before. It really comes down to how well you play. That's why when people ask me to made predictions, I never make them. I think we have a club that can compete. I like our ballclub. But you really have to go about it on a day-in, day-out basis and take care of your business and I think our club will do that.''
     
The Red Sox, of course, won the A.L. East, but were summarily dismissed in the Division Series by the Cleveland Indians, who swept them in three straight.
     
The Sox were the best offensive club in the majors, but the retirement of David Ortiz takes a huge weapon out of their lineup. It's doubtful they'll score as many runs as they did a year ago.
     
Correspondingly, the Sox vastly improved their rotation with Sale, giving them three front-line starters and, in theory, a chance to go further into the postseason in 2017.
     
So deep are the Sox, in fact, that they now have seven established starters, a surplus that has them positioned to move one arm.
    
It may take some time for the market to develop, as clubs explore what's available from other teams and in free agency.
     
"I don't know what that will be,'' Dombrowski said. "We'll just kind of wait and see what takes place. I think a lot is dependent on other things that need to shake out. So our depth in starting pitching is somewhat new to people. They need time to analyze that. I had a couple clubs approach me about that [inside the Rule 5 draft] this morning. Again, we're not jumping. We'll just wait and see what happens.''
     
Dombrowski could choose to move either Drew Pomeranz or Clay Buchholz, though it would seem dumping Buchholz's $13.5 million contract would be his preference.
     
That would enable Dombrowski to get closer to the $195 million luxury tax threshold, which he has said is a preference not a mandate.
     
"I have a preference [in choosing which starter to move],’’ he said with a smile. "I won't share that with you, but I have a preference.''

 

Red Sox re-acquire INF Rutledge in Rule 5 draft

Red Sox re-acquire INF Rutledge in Rule 5 draft

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- On Wednesday afternoon, Dave Dombrowski was asked what else he might be searching for to complete his roster.
     
Dombrowski, noting that Travis Shaw had been dealt away in the trade that brought the Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg, said the Red Sox could use another utility infielder to compete with left-handed-hitting Marco Hernandez.
     
On Thursday morning, Dombrowski found a familiar body in the unlikeliest of places.
     
The Sox selected Josh Rutledge from the Colorado Rockies in the Rule 5 draft. Rutledge, who was once obtained in exchange for outfielder Shane Victorino, spent parts of two seasons with the Red Sox, posting a slash line of .276/.338/.358 with a homer and 13 RBI in 67 games.
     
He missed most of last season with a knee injury and was outrighted by the Sox last month, becoming a free agent. He signed a minor league deal with the Rockies, but was unprotected by the Rockies and made available in Thursday's draft.
     
"We always liked him,'' said Dombrowski. "He thought his opportunity to play at the big league level was better [in Colorado]. But it was a situation for us, we looked at our club and we thought we might need a right-handed [hitting] utility infielder. We looked over the list and we like what he can do for our ballclub. So he was on obvious choice for us.''
     
Rutledge will compete against Marco Hernandez to become another bench player to team with Brock Holt on the Red Sox  roster.
     
Deven Marrero is also a righthand-hitting infielder, but his strength is defense and he's yet to prove he can hit major league pitching.
     
"I'd rather have someone [competing] who can swing the bat a little bit more,'' said Dombrowski. "I think [Rutledge] lines up to be on our club. We'll see what happens in spring training, but we know him, we like him. There looks like there's a path for him.''
     
Drafting Rutledge cost the Red Sox just $50,000 and he must  remain on the team's 25-man roster all season or, be offered back to the Rockies and placed on waivers.
     
The Sox also lost two players in the Rule 5 major league draft. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim chose right-handed pitcher Justin Haley, while the Baltimore Orioles chose outfielder Aneury Tavarez.