BOSTON -- Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia has come to the realization that he might have already played his last game in a Red Sox uniform.
He will become a free agent after the season and he’s already thinking he could be elsewhere in 2014. The 28-year-old backstop has been on the bench for Games 4, 5 and now 6 of the World Series as backup David Ross has been in the starting lineup.
The Red Sox are one win shy of winning the World Series. Prior to Wednesday’s Game 6, Saltalamacchia sat in the Red Sox dugout enjoying the atmosphere.
“As we’re getting closer, obviously, you think about how this could be the last time I wear this uniform, and last time I play here as a home player,” Saltalamacchia said. “It hits you a little bit. You don’t want to leave but at the same time it’s one of those things where it’s baseball. If it goes in that direction you can’t control it. I haven’t thought too much of a destination, but it’s definitely hit me a few times that this could be the last time.”
He added that he wants to remain in Boston for the long term.
“Yeah,” he said. “Oh, yeah. I’ve said that from the beginning, I would love to stay here and make this my home, but you really can’t control it.”
He’s started nine of the 16 games in his first postseason but has hit just .188. A few defensive misplays in Games 2 and 3 haven’t helped his cause. Offensively, he’s 0 for 6 with two walks against the Cardinals.
In Game 5, Ross went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI to help the Red Sox to a 3-1 victory at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Saltalamacchia and Ross are close and have been helping each other out. At the end of the day, as Saltalamacchia says, it’s all about winning and nothing else.
“It works well,” Saltalamacchia said of his relationship with Ross. “Once you get to the postseason all you want to do is win. Earlier in the season when he was injured, I got a chance to play a lot and prove that I can play, especially playing every day and not in the platoon-type role. This postseason has been great. There’s been those times when you watch what he does with the pitchers and how he calls a game, and vice-versa; we kind of feed off each other to where we can work that together to get the win.”
Here’s how manager John Farrell assesses the situation:
“That’s the tough thing, you see what a guy has done throughout the year and he’s earned the right to be on the field. And yet for specific reasons you see a matchup that might be, we’re better able to attack a matchup in a certain way. And yet, as I mentioned to Salty, we’ve had a few guys that we’re trying to get jumpstarted offensively, with Ross back there he’s given us a spark offensively. He might not like it, which I respect, I wouldn’t want him to like it. It’s also a different time of the year and that sense of urgency that we talked about leading into the postseason is here.
“I respect their dislike and disagreement. I respect that. We find ourselves in a situation to make decisions that are not popular.”
Prior to his arrival in Boston, Ross spent his entire career in the National League, so he knows the Cardinals lineup pretty well. He served as Red Sox starter Jon Lester’s batterymate in Game 1, and as Saltalamacchia returned to the lineup in Games 2 and 3, Ross helped in the scouting reports.
“Knowing his knowledge is good and I can trust it,” Saltalamacchia said. “Going into Games 2 and 3 I was comfortable calling pitches on these guys.”
When the Red Sox acquired Saltalamacchia via trade with the Texas Rangers on July 31, 2010, Boston was hoping he could reach his full potential here and someday replace Jason Varitek. Saltalamacchia has earned the respect from the pitching staff and his teammates.
No matter what happens this offseason, Saltalamacchia is enjoying the ride.
“It’s been awesome,” he said. “It’s been a great experience, something I’ve never been a part of, so to be a part of something like this and let the emotions of it take over and hopefully I’m in the situation a lot more going through my career, and I can learn something from the previous and keep going. This has been so much fun and I want to be a part of it.”