Jarrod Saltalamacchia Has 'Played Like a Champion' Despite Losing Playing Time to Ryan LavarnwayThis September, the Red Sox are in evaluation mode.

With the team out of playoff contention, the Red Sox have
made it a priority to give youngsters, such as Ryan Lavarnway, playing time. His promise as a backstop has impacted catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s role on the team.

During three of the past four games entering Friday night, Lavarnway has started behind the plate. It’s been a fall from grace for Saltalamacchia, who was considered an All-Star candidate back in July.

In the meantime, he’s serving as the team’s designated hitter when the opportunity arises.

“You’ve just got to play,” Saltalamacchia told reporters in Oakland. “The situation is only as bad as you make it. I like Ryan — he’s a good kid. I’m trying to help him out any way I can, just as I was helped out. He’s trying to play and make an impression.”

Despite his power numbers — he has 22 home runs entering Friday night — Saltalamacchia’s average has tumbled all the way down to .229. Even with Salty’s lack of playing time, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine appreciates the catcher’s attitude as the team develops Lavarnway.

“Salty has played like a champion,” Valentine told reporters. “Now that we can do the DH routine, I wouldn’t mind seeing Lavarnway a little. I just don’t want to see Salty rotting or not being appreciated for his great effort this year. Salty will probably be catching here real soon. Lavarnway is not going to catch every day is, I guess, what that means.”

Saltalamacchia told reporters that Valentine hadn’t directly explained the situation to him. Still, amid the uncertainty, the 27-year-old intends to mentor Lavarnway the same way that ex-catcher Jason Varitek advised him.

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