Jarrod Saltalamacchia Continues to Impress With Play Behind the Plate

Jarrod Saltalamacchia Continues to Impress With Play Behind the Plate This is the time of year when the intensity in baseball really ratchets up, when playoff chases become more pressing, when heat becomes unbearable.

For Jarrod Saltalamacchia, everything just continues to slow down.

At least that's what his manager has seen in the young catcher's continued improvements behind the plate.

Terry Francona has talked often of Saltalamacchia playing the game too fast early in the year, doing things in a herky-jerky way in an effort, often fruitless, to try to keep pace with a game that moves quicker than the average fan would ever know sitting in the stands.

Saltalamacchia’s recent success throwing runners out is just one indication that the pace has changed.

"Now, everything's coming to him," Francona said.

Saltalamacchia was credited with two more caught stealing Friday night in a 3-2 loss to the New York Yankees. It bumped his success rate in that category to 30 percent, above the league average and a far cry from the early days that saw teams run at all costs on him and Jason Varitek.

As a team, Boston’s rate of throwing out would-be base stealers has gone from a dismal 13 percent in 2009 to 20 percent in 2010 to its current 26 percent rate. Of course, Saltalamacchia came into the fold halfway through that rise. Now, he's at the center of it all and it is slowly changing the way opponents prepare for the Red Sox.

"With scouting the way it is now, we're seeing teams slow down now," Francona said.

Saltalamacchia once had issues before his Boston days just throwing the ball back to the pitcher, a mental effect of surgery to repair thoracic outlet syndrome and the recovery on that front. He is so far beyond that that he has begun to put on a clinic.

"He"s coming straight up and throwing downhill on a line to second and it's very exciting," Francona added. "He's always had this in him but for whatever reason, whether it was physically, maybe it got a little mental because of the physical, he's coming out of the chute throwing really well, and it's exciting for us."

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