BOSTON The bright spots in this Red Sox season have been difficult to find ,but Jarrod Saltalamacchia provided at least a glimmer of one in the Red Sox 5-4 loss to the Yankees Wednesday night at Fenway Park.Returning to the lineup for the first time since he left the game against the Blue Jays Friday night with back spasms, Saltalamacchia went 3-for-3, falling a single shy of the cycle, reaching base in all four plate appearances including a walk, with two runs scored and an RBI. He led off the ninth inning with a home run into the right field seats, his 24th homer of the season, to pull the Sox within a run.Salty had a couple of days off and his back was a little tight after he hit the triple but he stayed in there and played great, said manager Bobby Valentine. I think Saltys had a really good year for us this year, totally unappreciated by some. But did a very good job tonight and for most of the season. A walk, double, triple and homer. Thats pretty good.Saltalamacchia set a career high with three extra-base hits. His fifth-inning triple, his first hit of the night, was his first triple of the season and first since Sept. 19, 2011, against the Orioles.I got the hardest part out of the way the triple, he said. After that my back started to get tighter. I was trying to focus on that and staying in the game.It was the first time in his career that he reached base in four plate appearances.I wasnt trying to do too much because of the back, he said. I wasnt trying to overswing. I was standing in on balls, not trying to pull anything. Felt pretty good.After taking game one on Tuesday from the Yankees, the Sox stayed in Wednesdays game until their final at-bat, showing, perhaps, more fight than they have in some recent games.Im not going to say more of a fight, Saltalamacchia said. The Yankee series always means a little more to Boston fans and us. I dont think weve changed our approach,. We want to win. We dont want to lay down for anybody. We havent changed our approach.Although Saltalamacchia is hitting just .232 for the season, with a .293 on-base percentage, he is slugging .480, third among major league catchers entering Wednesdays game. He also entered the game tied for second-most home runs by major league catchers. His 24 home runs are the most by a Sox catcher since Jason Variteks 25 in 2003.If I finish the season doing well, you feel good, Saltalamacchia said. One guy cant win all the games. David Ortiz is out and thats taken a big hit on our offense. It would be better if the team went into the offseason feeling better where were at. I wasnt thinking too much about my swing, just trying to put good at-bats together.
The Red Sox signed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract bn August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:
“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”
Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.
That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.