OKC catcher: just trying to play catch

By Bob Hersom / okcredhawks.com | May 12, 2010 11:42 AM

RedHawks catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia would be back in the major leagues if he didn't have a problem throwing the ball - not to an infielder, but back to his pitcher.

In Salty's last game, Tuesday night at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, 12 of his throws back to the pitcher landed either short of the mound or in center field. He had five errant throws in the first inning alone.

"He's just got to keep playing until he gets it right," RedHawks manager Bobby Jones said. "I don't know what else to do. It's a shame. It's definitely what's keeping him here. He's blocking the ball well and swinging the bat well. He's just got to figure it out. It's a shame."

It's a shame for a variety of reasons, including Saltalamacchia's strong work ethic and solid attitude.

"Jarrod's the first one here (at The Brick) every day," Jones said. "You can count on it."

Saltalamacchia can be counted on for getting hits as well. He has a 16-game hitting streak and has been on base in all 17 RedHawks games he's played.

He has a robust .359 batting average, .417 on-base percentage and .578 slugging percentage.

"I feel comfortable," Salty said. "I feel comfortable at the plate and I feel comfortable behind the plate. So it's just whenever they want me back up there."

The Rangers will want Saltalamacchia as soon as he solves his throws-to-the-pitcher problem.

Texas farm director Scott Servais, a former major league catcher, has devised a throwing program for Saltalamacchia. He works with Jones and pitching coach Terry Clark before every game.

"It's just a matter of him figuring it out. He's working on it," Jones said. "He's doing everything he can to get it done. He's a great kid. He's working hard. He's not shying away from it. He's out there every day working on it, and hopefully one of these days it'll sink in."

Saltalamacchia said, "Everything feels good. My throws have been good down to second. We've been working on different arm angles, getting on top of the ball more rather than getting on the side. So everything's going smoothly and we'll see where it goes."

Saltalamacchia's throwing problems arose last year, prompting Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (shoulder) surgery in September. A rib was removed on his right side.

More health problems popped up this year, when he was treated for soreness in his upper left back.

"It has nothing to do the other injury," Saltalamacchia said. "That was on the other side. But the doctors did think that it had a lot to do with the surgery (on the right shoulder). They thought that with my recovery I kind of rushed back from it, and so that might have a lot to do with it."

Salty's throwing problems last year were related to numbness in his right shoulder. The numbness has gone away.

"Everything's perfect. Everything feels good," Saltalamacchia said. "The pain's gone, so it's just a day to day thing right now."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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