FORT MYERS, Fla. Last season, Jarrod Saltalamacchia caught Josh Becketts first start of the season, a 3-1 loss in Cleveland on April 5. It was the last time the two were paired to start a game until Becketts final start of the season, a 6-3 loss in Baltimore on Sept. 26. In between, Jason Varitek caught each of Becketts other 28 starts.
Now with Varitek retired, Beckett will have to adjust to someone other than the former Red Sox captain behind the plate. That begins Sunday against the Twins in the Sox Grapefruit League opener with Saltalamacchia catching for Beckett.
I think its very important, very challenging for him to be on page with anybody whos going to be catching him, said manager Bobby Valentine. Which even complicates the equation a little because we can't say that its going to be Salty catching him every game or even most of the games because injuries do happen in this game. So were going to try to prep that team within the team the best that we can, knowing that its going to be a project that evolves as the season continues. It wont be a completed project in spring training, I dont believe.
Valentine, while managing in Japan, inherited a personal catcher situation. Then, though, it was not with a starter, but with his closer.
When I first got there I was told that the catcher couldnt catch my closer, Valentine said. Not that they couldnt work together; that he couldnt catch him. That was a problem. That was a problem I thought. The next season he caught him for a championship. But what I did there, the guy I think we had wound up playing for another team, so there wasnt an option.
When that catcher was in the game the closer didnt want to come in. And I didnt know. It was one of those Oh, really? It was during the game, Are you serious? And it wasnt unique to change catchers with pitchers there. It wasnt like an exception to the rule. It was more the rule than the exception.
I think there was a game the closer didnt pitch.
Valentine does not foresee that being a problem this season.
I think Josh is going to pitch regardless of whos catching, Valentine said.