BOSTON - Jarrod Saltalmacchia isn't in the lineup Wednesday night -- Kelly Shoppach is starting against Detroit lefty Drew Smyly -- but that didn't stop Bobby Valentine for prasing the recent play of Saltalamacchia.
"He's turned a big corner,'' said Valentine. "In the last couple of weeks, I've seen a player turn into an All-Star -- an absolute player who you can count on, who's got it. He's understands what's needed out of him and he's delivering it.''
Over his last 14 games, Saltalamacchia has hit .364 (16-for-44) with three doubles, five homers and 12 RBI in that span.
Asked what Saltalamacchia had done differently to make the recent leap, Valentine cracked: "I have a tough enough time realizing what's going on; figuring out why it's going on is a little too tough for me. But it's happening.''
Saltalamacchia has always been a streaky player. He began 2011 poorly; then, from May through August, was one of the most productive catchers in the American League. But in September, Saltalamacchia seemed to tire and wasn't in the lineup for the final two games of the season.
That streakiness has been evident again this year, with Saltalamacchia collecting just two hits in his first nine games (.080) before hitting .323 (32-for-99) since then.
This year, the test for Saltalamacchia will be to perform on a more consistent basis.