Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Lavarnway Help Give Red Sox Catching Depth Now and Into Future

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Lavarnway Help Give Red Sox Catching Depth Now and Into FutureJason Varitek‘s career is expected to come to an official end on Thursday when he is slated to formally announce his retirement from the Red Sox.

It marks the end of an era, but it also officially marks a transition in power two years in the making, as it means that Jarrod Saltalamacchia is now the leader of the Boston catching corps. 

With Saltalamacchia behind the dish, Kelly Shoppach serving as his backup and Ryan Lavarnway on the way up, the Sox should be looking at a smooth transfer of power.

Who do you think will get the captain spot this year? I’ve been told Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but also people been saying David Ortiz will get it?
–Anthony Lanciani, Leominster, Mass.

I think Saltalamacchia is too early in his tenure to take that spot. Obviously not every team has a captain. There have been many years that Red Sox did not. It is a totally different set-up than say the NHL for instance. However, I like the idea of having one. I think it has to be an everyday player who has the respect of all and who has tenure. David Ortiz has that I believe. But, I for one think Dustin Pedroia would be a great choice. He is both types of captains. He can “lead by example on the field” but is also a “vocal leader” who is not afraid to say things to people. There are few players who are both and he truly is.

Do you see the Red Sox keeping Jason Varitek around as a coach? Wouldn’t he have a lot of value in the bullpen?
–Janice Stitt, Laconia

We will find out very soon. I thought he may take a year off as many do to sort of recharge his batteries and get used to not being a player. Generally that is a tough process and can take time to separate the player thought process and move to a coaching thought process. There is no doubt he could help on many levels from direct coaching on the field to the minor leagues to advance scouting if he wishes. Remember he was advance scouting every game with every pitcher on every hitter for many years. I guess it comes down to what it is he wants to do.

How is the ban on alcohol in the clubhouse going to play with the team?
–Craig Turcotte, Blackstone, Mass.

I don’t think it is going to be a big deal. I think they sort of expected it coming into camp with a new manager and based on what happened in September of last year. It was clear they abused a privilege that most MLB teams do not have and now this year will lose that privilege. 

Do the Red Sox have any major concerns behind the plate this year?
–Jim Stanclift, Keene, N.H.

No I am not worried about the catching spot. I think that’s what really made it tough for Jason Varitek to return. Saltalamacchia did a great job settling into the starting catchers role last year and with the addition of Kelly Shoppach, they are solid. Not to mention Ryan Lavarnway is developing very quickly. I think he starts the year in Pawtucket but could be an impact player mid season. He was very impressive at the end of last year. So where the Red Sox had very little depth a few years ago in catching right now I think they are in good shape.

Is there any chance that Bobby Valentine moves Crawford up to the No. 2 hole and slides Dustin Pedroia down to third?
–Craig Turcotte, Blackstone, Mass.

I guess there is always a shot. I really think it hurt Carl Crawford early in his Red Sox career to be dropped in the order so quickly last year. I think confidence-wise it did not help how things started for him and seemed to snowball. On the other side of that, I think Pedrioa is a great No. 2 hitter and I know he is very comfortable there. I would leave Dustin right where he is. Sorry to be so vague, but until we see Bobby Valentine‘s patterns with lineups, it is tough to tell how much tinkering he will do with it or whether there will be set lineups.

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