Salty approaching Fisk's record

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Salty approaching Fisk's record

OAKLAND -- Even as he splits playing time with Ryan Lavarnway, Jarrod Saltalamacchia is nearing a Red Sox franchise record.

Saltalamacchia entered Saturday's game with 23 homers, second-most among major league catchers. And Saltalmacchia is just three homers away from tying Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk's franchise mark for most homers in a season by a catcher.

Fisk hit 26 in 1973, his second full season with the Sox. Jason Varitek hit 25 in 2003, the second-best homer season for a Sox receiver.

Saltalamacchia entered Saturday with two homers in his last three games and three in his last eight. That shouldn't come as a surprise since Saltalamacchia is a notoriously streaky hitter.

He hit three homers in three games in late April then belted five home runs in the span of 10 games in late May. Finally, in late June into early July, he had his biggest concentrated power surge with five homers in 10 games.

A switch-hitter, Saltalamacchia has hit 22 of his 23 homers from the left side. For the season, Saltalmacchia has a .490 slugging percentage and a .780 OPS against righthanders, but is slugging just .341 with a .596 OPS against lefties.

A report by WEEI.com Saturday had David Ortiz likely through for the remainder of the season. Ortiz has played just one game since July 16 thanks to a strained Achilles heel.

After coming off the DL late last month, he returned there several days later and received a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection late last week and didn't accompany the team on its West Coast trip.

When asked about Ortiz rejoining the team on the trip Friday, manager Bobby Valentine ruled out the DH coming to Oakland, saying the training staff advised against flying so soon after the injection. Valentine hinted that it was possible, however, for Ortiz to come to Seattle, where the Sox play road games Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before returning home.

On Saturday, Valentine seemed bored or annoyed by questions about Ortiz's possible return.

"God...I don't know,'' sighed Valentine. "I haven't heard anything about that. I think he's going to try (to play again). That's the last I heard. It's old news.''

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.