For much of the offseason the Red Sox’ plans at catcher have been a bit of a question mark. The team finished last season with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway as their two catchers and then this offseason signed David Ross and Mike Napoli, increasing the total to four catchers on their roster.
Many thought the Red Sox would look to trade Saltalamacchia in an effort to improve other parts of the team, while others felt maybe Napoli could get some time behind the plate as he did with Texas. No such trade happened, and it appears Napoli will be playing first base full-time.
Monday, the teams’ plans at catcher were revealed by general manager Ben Cherington in an interview with MLB Network Radio.
"Our expectation is that [Jarrod Saltalamacchia] and [David] Ross would be the two catchers," Cherington said. "We'll see. There's always room for someone to push. Ryan Lavarnway is a very talented young man. … He's going to have a very good Major League career. When that sort of clock starts in Boston remains to be seen."
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Going by Cherington’s comments it appears Lavarnway, who has options, will at least begin the season with Triple-A Pawtucket and with that, the Red Sox will open the year with Saltalamacchia and Ross as their two catchers.
Lavarnway struggled in his limited time with Boston at the end of last season. He hit just .157 in 46 games, while striking out 41 times. The 25-year-old has a bright future ahead -- he just needs more time in Triple-A.
Saltalamacchia, 27, avoided arbitration late last month by signing a one-year, $4.5 million contract. The catcher has been a popular clubhouse guy in his two full seasons with the Red Sox and given them some power in the lineup.
He hit a career-high 25 home runs in 2012, and had his second highest total in 2011 with 16, all while doing a fairly good job managing the pitching staff and calling the game behind the dish. Ross, an 11-year veteran, signed with Boston in November and should be a solid backup of Saltalamacchia.
Ross has been a backup virtually his entire career, but has hit pretty well when given the opportunity. He is a lifetime .238 hitter, and hit .256 in 62 games with the Braves last season. Ross actually played eight games for the Red Sox in 2008.
With so many unknowns and uncertainties surrounding the Red Sox in 2013, the team should at least feel comfortable with what they have at catcher in two players who have proven they can succeed.