Saltalamacchia HR a path less taken

NEW YORK -- Things that have happened to Jarrod Saltalamacchia since he hit his last big-league home run:

* He changed teams.

* He celebrated two birthdays.

* He became a father for the third time.

* He gained a personal coach/surrogate uncle in Gary Tuck, the catching instructor who made Saltalamacchia his personal project last winter, even moving to Florida for a couple of months to supervise his workouts.

* He played in 46 games, batted 121 times, struck out 34 times, and laid down one sacrifice bunt.

And Sunday night in Yankee Stadium he went deep, in a manner of speaking, his eighth-inning drive off Joba Chamberlain just reaching the first couple of rows of the right-field seats to give the Sox a 7-5 lead.

“I know that home run, this might be the only ballpark …’’ manager Terry Francona said, then stopped, as he often does, leaving his sentence uncompleted.

The finished thought, it can be reasonably surmised, was that Saltalamacchia’s drive might not have left the premises anywhere but the Bronx. “We’ll take it,’’ Francona said.

So will Saltalamacchia, who had not given himself a reason to circle the bases at his leisure since Aug. 2, 2009, when he was playing for Texas and connected off Seattle’s Sean White, who coincidentally had been drafted by the Atlanta Braves the same year Saltalamacchia was, 2003.

The home run was the first by a Red Sox catcher this season, leaving the Minnesota Twins as the only team in the majors whose catchers have not homered.

“It felt good to put some good wood on the ball tonight,’’ said Saltalamacchia, who had a line-drive single and a line-drive out before taking Chamberlain out of the yard.

“Especially that one, because it gave us that extra run, let the bullpen come in and breathe a little bit.’’