Lots of iron in Salty diet

BOSTON -- A day after catching both ends of a day-night doubleheader, something no Red Sox catcher has done since John Marzano in 1992, Jarrod Saltalamacchia was back in the lineup Wednesday night.

“I thought they’d give him a day off today," deadpanned GM Ben Cherington, “but they didn’t."

Saltalamacchia already had imagined the possibility of playing Wednesday when his day-night’s work -- 18 innings, catching 261 pitches thrown by seven pitchers -- ended the night before.

“I don’t want to think about [how I’ll feel]," he said. “I just want to play every time out.”

A nearly three-hour rain delay denied Saltalamacchia the usual break between games. With backup David Ross back on the 7-day disabled list with concussion symptoms, the Sox had hoped to have call-up Ryan Lavarnway in time for the second game, but Lavarnway’s flight from Columbus, Ohio, where Pawtucket was playing, was delayed by weather, and he didn’t arrive until the fourth inning.

“My frame of mind was to play both games." Saltalamacchia said, “so mentally I was prepared and ready.

“Once things started going, I didn’t want to slow down. If it was a long delay in between games instead of 30 minutes it would have been a little tougher. But a quick start felt good.”

His effort did not go unappreciated.

“He did an unbelievable job catching 10 hours of baseball, whatever it was," Cherington said.

The fact that Saltalamacchia went hitless in six at-bats, including three whiffs and a double play in Game 1, was secondary to his work behind the plate, said teammate Jonny Gomes, who hit a walkoff home run to win the second game.

“Whether he got hits or not, he did an amazing job putting those fingers down,” Gomes said.

“Tired or not, he was the MVP of the doubleheader,” he added.

First baseman and former catcher Mike Napoli echoed those sentiments.

“When I caught, there was no way I wanted to catch 18 innings in one day,” Napoli said. “He’s a big, strong kid and he showed us he could do it.”

Saltalamacchia’s ironman effort came within days of catching all 14 innings of the Sox game a week ago Monday in Tropicana Field, and 13 innings three nights later in Baltimore.

“That definitely affected me a little bit going into [Wednesday],” Saltalamacchia said. “But I feel fine."

Saltalamacchia has batted .280 (35 for 125) since the start of May, and his OPS of .803 this season ranks fourth among AL catchers with at least 200 plate appearances.

“I think he has taken a step forward all around," Cherington said. “You get feedback from pitchers, you see it yourself, the job he’s doing managing things behind the plate. The respect he’s getting from pitchers, umpires, the game-calling. His throwing has improved, there are more consistent at-bats.

“He’s done a great job."

Kyle Brasseur is an intern for ESPNBoston.com