Saltalamacchia doesn't see Ross' arrival as his ticket out of town

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Saltalamacchia doesn't see Ross' arrival as his ticket out of town

BOSTON -- Like the fans who follow the Red Sox, Jarrod Saltalamacchia took notice of the teams signing of fellow catcher David Ross to a two-year contract last month. But he reacted differently than most.

I . . . wasnt thinking too much about it, he said. But when I did see him sign, I was kind of excited. I've gotten to talk to him a few times, and I've also played against him. Obviously I know what kind of guy he is, what kind of player he is. I'm excited to be able to work with him and learn something from him.

Ross, 35, was a seventh-round pick of the Dodgers in 1998 out of the University of Florida and made his big-league debut in 2002. The native of Georgia spent the past four seasons with the Braves. He has also played for the Pirates, Padres and Reds in addition to a brief stint with the Red Sox at the end of the 2008 season.

Saltalamacchia, 27, holds Ross in high regard.

It's basically Im putting him in the same category as having Jason Varitek around again, Saltalamacchia said. A guy who's been through it, a guy that's been around the game. Hes an older guy. I talked to the Braves Brian McCann a lot about him, and he loved him. So I'm excited to work with him. I think he brings that veteran's presence with the pitching staff, with the guys on the team. And its a great guy to have."

Still, the acquisition of Ross inevitably led to speculation that Saltalamacchia, who has been with the Sox since being acquired from the Rangers at the trading deadline in 2010, or Ryan Lavarnway could be dispatched from the Sox.

Ive been through trade talk before and, honestly, you cant control what happens in this game, Saltalamacchia said. You got to go out there and play hard. Obviously I would love nothing more than to stay here. You go out to battle with these guys and I battled with all year last year and the year prior. So Im not going to read into it. Im just going to get ready and prepare like I normally would.

Ive been in the situation before where things can happen. I understand it. But I look at it as an opportunity for me and David to work together, to be honest with you.

Saltalamacchia has talked with new manager John Farrell several times this offseason, about several topics including the catching situation.

Havent talked to general manager Ben Cherington but Farrell just told me, 'Hey, I think Ross is a guy who complements you really well.' Its a guy that I can work together (with), a guy that -- like is said about Tek -- brings that veteran leadership where you can kind of sit back and talk, get back to the basics of the game.

Saltalamacchia is happy to have bullpen coach Gary Tuck, the only holdover from Bobby Valentines 2012 staff, returning. Tuck, entering his seventh season with the Sox, has been the only constant on the coaching staff over the last few seasons.

"He's one of my best friends, so to have him back obviously is going to be something that I wanted from the get-go, Saltalamacchia said. I think it's going to be best for the team, for the bullpen. Having a guy like that is priceless. I know a lot of teams wanted him a couple of years ago and a lot of teams probably wanted him this season. So Im glad hes back.

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

PHOENIX - Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher's mound. While baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union - unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.

"Unfortunately it now appears that there really won't be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."

Yet, he also added: "I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change."

Manfred said while he prefers an agreement, "I'm also not willing to walk away." He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.

Clark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club - and proposed rules changes were a topic.

"I have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA," Manfred said. "I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the game."

Clark saw talks differently.

"Unless your definition of `cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the commissioner's office on these issues," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason we've been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don't continue, notwithstanding today's comments about implementation. As I've said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open."

Clark added "my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustments."

Manfred said he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.

"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," Manfred said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level - at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play - they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union's agreement- such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

"Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don't think it would have been a major adjustment for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule "beneficial in developmental leagues."

Manfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a "viable market for us."

"I don't think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city," Manfred said.

Bulpett: Ainge 'really protective' of ability to go to free agency this summer

Bulpett: Ainge 'really protective' of ability to go to free agency this summer

Steve Bulpett joins Mike Felger to weigh in on the NBA trade deadline and the lack of moves made by Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics thus far.