Jarrod Saltalamacchia: 'I was definitely hoping for a reunion' with Red Sox

Rob Bradford
May 06, 2015 - 10:44 am

As of Wednesday, newly-designated free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia had four teams interested in bringing him aboard. As he said by phone, "I'm blessed to be able to spend this time with the family, and now it's time to get back to work." But that doesn't mean the sting of how the catcher got to this point still hasn't worn off. "No, I honestly didn't," said Saltalamacchia when asked if he anticipated the Miami Marlins designating for assignment. "The conversations I've had with [Marlins owner] Jeffrey Loria, DJ [GM Dan Jennings] and [team president] Mike Hill, it wasn't something I saw. I knew about [recently-promoted] J.T. [Realmuto]. I worked with him in spring, he's a great kid and I enjoyed being around him. I wanted to help him out any way I could. But I didn't see this. I guess you can't be surprised by anything in this game." Saltalamacchia was in the second year of his three-year, $21 million deal, having played in nine games this season after totaling 114 appearances in '14. Now, after clearing waivers, the 30 year old finds himself in the open market once again. And when reality set in, one of the catcher's first thoughts was a possible return to the Red Sox. Their top catchers [Christian Vazquez, Ryan Hanigan] had already been sidelined, and the Sox were going to have to rely on backup Sandy Leon and rookie Blake Swihart. But Saltalamacchia was told he would have to look some other place than the team he won a world championship with while turning in a 2013 season that included 40 doubles and an .804 OPS. "I was definitely hoping to come back," he said. "Some of my best memories in baseball are there, and family-wise. My kids pretty much grew up there. We had our third child there. It's definitely a place that means a lot to me. I was definitely hoping for a reunion, but I understand their situation with Swihart. I can completely respect that. As a player you appreciate something like that, when a team has a homegrown, young guy they want to give an opportunity to. That's what every player hopes for and wants, that opportunity to prove himself. "Obviously you lose a lot of sleep when this happens. I was obviously ready to get back and ready to go from Day 1. It was really early in the season so it wasn't like I was worn down or needed a rejuvenation. But it clears your head a little bit, and I've had some time to do that. I'm blessed. I've got four kids and a wife that deals with all this B.S. and doesn't give me a hard time about it." Despite a subpar season in '14 -- in which he battled a variety of injuries, including a concussion -- Saltalamacchia was optimistic heading into his second season the Marlins. The switch-hitter had worked with Marlins hitting coach Lenny Harris to get back to his '13 form, and felt the results were right around the corner before he cut loose by Miami. But with a start that saw Saltalamacchia go 2-for-29 to begin the season, and the Marlins' desire to commit to Realmuto, he was left continuing his comeback with another team. "Yeah, without a doubt," said the catcher when asked if he felt he was still similar to the 2013 version of Saltalamacchia. "Every year I defensively try and get better, obviously I think everybody does, last year was obviously not that, but I don't walk away from that and say, 'Oh man, this is who I am now.' It's obviously a process and last year I was getting to know a lot of new pitchers, so a lot of times that plays into it. Your defense is a lot different so you tend to overdue it because you're trying to make it happen with a new team. "But as far as being the same guy, yeah, 100 percent. I definitely felt a lot healthier this year. I think I was a little tired with the long season, World Series and the short recovery time. This offseason I was able to enjoy it and work out and get in shape and come into spring training where I wanted to be at. I think that played into last year, and it was a small sample size this year. Defenisively, I felt a lot better and I think I've done a lot better. Unfortunately in a short period of time I didn't get to get the at-bats I wanted to get in to get back to where I was."