Being mentally strong key for Salty

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Boston Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is an early arrival in camp, even though he spent much of his offseason in grueling twice-a-week sessions with bullpen coach Gary Tuck.

After a session of batting practice with fellow early birds Ryan Kalish and Daniel Nava, Saltalamacchia sat down Tuesday morning and talked about the opportunity he is getting in Boston to become the team’s No. 1 catcher, and how he’s prepared for it.

Here are a few of his thoughts, with a more expanded story coming later:

* On what he anticipates his role will be:

“They’ve said the starting job is mine. Whether it’s three days a week, four days a week, whatever, I don’t know. I’m not really worried about it. My job is the pitchers, to go out there and help them get through their game. When I get to the plate, do my job in whatever way the situation calls for.

* On those who suggest the team’s biggest question mark, and possible weak link, is the catching:

“Honestly, I don’t have anything to respond to that. What they think and what people are saying is what they want to think and say. We know as a team what we’ve got to do on the field. We all have a job and we’ve all got to be there for each other. I’m prepared to do my job, and I’m going to be there for every single guy on the team. I don’t look at it any other way, than to go out there and play hard every day.’’

* On whether the problem he had tossing the ball back to the pitchers while in the minors last season is a dead issue:

“It was a health issue that kind of grew mental, obviously, but I worked on it. I got stuff I go through, but as far as I’m concerned it’s a dead issue. Are there going to be recurrences? I don’t think so. It’s one of those things that through my career I’m going to have to deal with, but I don’t see it being a problem. I don’t think about it. I used to.’’

* On how much seeking out help from psychologists has helped him:

“I recommend everyone use one. Even if you’re an All-Star, there’s no reason why you can’t get better. It’s helped me tremendously.

“I think the game has changed a little bit. When I was first coming up, just being young, your ego plays into it. You don’t want anyone to know you’re getting help.

But you’re getting help in the training room, why not get help for other issues?

“I didn’t want anyone to know I want somebody, I need somebody, that was a big issue with me. But it’s done wonders for me. Going home after a game two years ago, I could have hit the bed and slept for 18 hours because my head was just going, and now, I’ve learned to be able to work with that. Think smart, think positive. You can’t put negatives in your head, it’s just going to hurt you all around. It’s been great for me.’’