Saltalamacchia's offense gives Sox a boost

Saltalamacchia's offense gives Sox a boost
June 9, 2013, 7:30 pm
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BOSTON --  To have a catcher who can offer offense in addition to his work behind the plate, most teams would consider that a bonus. Last season, the Red Sox's Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit just .222, but hit 25 home runs.
 
After going 2-for-4 Sunday in a 10-5 victory over the Angels, Saltalamacchia raised his average to .273.  Both hits were home runs, raising his slugging percentage to .515 and giving him eight home runs this season.
 
It was his fourth career multi-home run game, his first since April 26, 2012, against the White Sox in Chicago, and his first at Fenway Park.
 
His first homer, to straightaway center field leading off the sixth, came one pitch before Mike Carp’s sixth home run and marked the fifth time the Sox have hit back-to-back home runs this season. It was the Sox's first back-to-back homers since May 1 in Toronto and first time they've done so this season on consecutive pitches.

Saltalamacchia's second home run, one inning later also to center, scored David Ortiz and Mike Napoli, who each walked with one out.  Saltalamacchia’s shot accounted for the last of the Sox's 10 runs.
 
"The approach was go up and look for a good pitch to hit,” he said. "The next at-bat I wanted to stay with the same approach and got another good pitch to hit. It felt good.”
 
A switch-hitter, Saltalamacchia entered the game with marked differences in his splits: a .311 average with .368 on-base percentage and .549 slugging percentage against righties; .128/.244/.256 against lefties.   Both home runs Sunday came off Angels starter, righthander Joe Blanton. Saltalamacchia now has seven home runs this season against righties, one off a lefty.

“What he’s done from the left side of the plate, we picked our sports with [David] Ross with lefties,” said manager John Farrell. “But I think a lot of guys, or a few other guys are getting some of the notoriety offensively because of what they’re doing. But he in some ways is quietly going along and putting up a strong year. Average is better, power’s still there. He continues to, I think, improve with his overall handling of our staff. And I think, more quietly than I think some of the others have garnered, he’s doing a very god job.
 
He and [hitting coach Greg Colbrunn], the work that they’ve done trying to keep him in the middle of the field a little bit more rather than solely looking to just pull the ball, it’s enabled him to keep the bat in the zone longer. And he’s got better plate coverage, more consistent coverage. There’s going to be some swing and miss in there at times but with the approach he’s locked in with right now, you’re looking at a guy in the six-, seven-hole with that kind of power threat. I think it kind of speaks to what our lineup has and the ability to put up runs quickly.”
 
Saltalamacchia has appeared behind the plate in 46 of 64 games, making 41 starts. He appeared in a career-high 104 games there last season, with his 95 starts, one shy of his career high from 2011. Still, he doesn’t see why he can’t significantly increase those numbers.
 
"There's no reason why I can't catch 130, 140,” he said. “That's always something I always wanted to do. But last year we lost our DH [when David Ortiz was on the disabled list] and I didn't get to do that.”
 
Still, catching is a physically – and mentally – demanding position.
 
“I think we’ve always deemed the catching position as a two-man tandem,” Farrell said. “Not even split in terms of games played, but we know that it does take its toll on a guy physically and we’re fortunate to have two very good guys that are handling our staff. Both he and David Ross complement one another in their skills. So we’re not looking to run Salty into the ground. And there’ll be times when David will get a game against right-handed starter, as well. So, in the meantime hopefully the production continues.”