Jason Varitek to Get More Work for Now, But Red Sox Aren’t Giving Up on Jarrod Saltalamacchia


Apr 27, 2011

Jason Varitek to Get More Work for Now, But Red Sox Aren't Giving Up on Jarrod Saltalamacchia In a little more than a week, the feelings of Red Sox Nation have changed rather dramatically.

From 2-10 to 10-11, the Red Sox were outstanding in their home series against Toronto and their West Coast trip to Oakland and Anaheim.

They hit a setback Tuesday night in Baltimore, but there is much more optimism surrounding the Sox than there was in the middle of the month.

Jarrod Saltalamacchhia has been a hot button topic. What will the Sox do?
–Kevin, Weston, Mass.

In my opinion, and in listening to Terry Francona, they will catch him less often and use Jason Varitek more. I think we are seeing that already with Varitek catching Tuesday night and scheduled to catch again Wednesday, with Josh Beckett on the mound. I do not think they will give up on Salty entirely, but I just think the roles may reverse here with the catching tandem moving forward. I thought the comments from Mike Scioscia over the weekend were interesting when talking about young catchers and how long they take to mature, perhaps differently than any other position. I also think Salty's situation was magnified because of the team's trouble early.

Despite the loss Tuesday night, how have the Red Sox turned things around so quickly?
–Karen, Methuen, Mass.

I think starting pitching is the answer. Timely hitting is still not happening on a consistent basis. The rotation all of a sudden is going deep into games and giving up very few runs. In fact, on Tuesday night, Clay Buchholz was the first starter in the last nine games to give up more than two runs. When the Red Sox were losing, their starters were being chased early in games and it was taxing the bullpen extremely early in the season. The relievers were then being overused and having bad results on a regular basis.

The most surprising of all of the starters for me has been how incredible Daisuke Matsuzaka has been in his last two starts.

It has been a great start for Jonathan Papelbon. What is he doing differently this season?
–Elliot, Cumberland, R.I.

Over the past few years, he really was using one pitch, his fastball. Guys would not have to worry or even think about his secondary pitches because he was not using them enough. Major league hitters will eventually hit your fastball, especially if they know it is coming. He was not commanding it either at times, and patient hitters would walk. As a result, there would be base runners many nights when he pitched last year, adding to the length of his outings and the number of pitches he had to throw.

This year, from his first appearance in the spring and to the present, he has used not only his fastball but his split, and has used his slider on a regular basis. So now the hitter really does not know what to expect, and he is throwing all three for strikes.

Will Jacoby Ellsbury continue to lead off?
–Thomas, Wells, Maine

I believe he will as long as he can continue to get on base. I think it is great that he has four home runs, but, honestly, they do not want Jacoby hitting home runs. What they want is for him to get on base. He will occasionally hit one because he is strong enough to square one up every now and then, but his role is to get on as much as possible and not to think that he is a home run hitter and change his approach or his swing in any way.

When he is hitting line drives into gaps, walking and being selective at the plate and causing havoc on the base paths, then you know he will stay in the top spot as long as possible. If he does not, Terry has already shown he will drop him down in the order until he does.

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