Amidst all the roster moves the Red Sox have made of late, no one player may be affected more than catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
His back up, David Ross, was moved to the 60-day disabled list with his second concussion and the earliest he can return now is Aug. 17. The team has Ryan Lavarnway to take Ross’ spot, but manager John Farrell seems hesitant to use him as much as he used Ross.
This means there will be a lot more playing time for Saltalamacchia, which is something the catcher does not mind doing especially considering he caught all 18 innings in a day-night doubleheader two weeks ago.
“I don’t want to think about [how I’ll feel]," he said following those games. “I just want to play every time out.”
The 28-year-old is having his best season in his seven-year career and fourth with the Red Sox. He is hitting .262 with 8 home runs and 31 RBIs. He’s picked up his game even more of late, as in the month of June Saltalamacchia was hitting .268, while slugging .465.
Not only has Saltalamacchia picked up his play at the plate, but his defense and calling of games has also dramatically improved, especially from back when he originally came to Boston. His 4.18 catcher’s ERA (the ERA of pitchers while catching) is 13th in all of MLB and sixth in the American League.
"I think he has taken a step forward all around," said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. "You get feedback from pitchers and you see it yourself with the job he's doing behind the plate managing the game, the respect he's getting from pitchers and umpires.”
All of this can be attributed to the hard work he’s put in between starts and seeking advice from coaches and former catchers, including Jason Varitek. His improvement and dedication to his work behind the plate has gotten the attention of his manager.
"I think even from the beginning of this year, there's been more familiarity with the guys on the mound, what their capabilities are,” manager John Farrell said. And [Saltalamacchia's] ability to read swings has shown up in the pitch selection that he's used. … I think his overall game has taken a step forward."
Already playing one of the most important positions on the team, Saltalamacchia’s job has gotten even more essential by losing Ross for a long period of time, but for the Red Sox that may not be a bad thing considering the way he’s performed this season.
Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84