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Theo Epstein says Jarrod Saltalamacchia could be Red Sox’ everyday guy

11.16.10 at 8:14 pm ET
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ORLANDO, Fla. — Talking to the Boston media at the general managers’ meetings Tuesday night, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said that, depending on who becomes available in the catching market, Jarrod Saltalamacchia could be an “everyday guy” for the Sox heading into the 2011 season.

“We’€™ll probably have a more experienced guy on roster than him as well, but I think we’€™re comfortable with him in a role anywhere from a back-up, to job-share, to everyday guy, depending on how rest of club shapes up,” Epstein explained. “We like him. We liked him from scouting standpoint, we took opportunity to buy low after he’€™d been through a rough period and then he really impressed the staff, who really had no vested interest in him. He really opened some eyes,. From the manager [Terry Francona] to Gary Tuck to pitching coach, the way he handled pitchers, the way he threw, the way he conducted himself in the clubhouse. He was impressive to everybody.”

Epstein went on to explain that the 25-year-old catcher isn’t the only young player who may find himself in an expanded role, depending on the Red Sox’ ability to re-sign such free agents as Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre.

“At some point you need to give a chance to young players, let them build value,” Epstein said. “[Saltalamacchia's] one of those guys. [Jed] Lowrie is potentially another, [Ryan] Kalish is potentially another. We’€™re not going to have high-profile solutions to all our needs. It’€™s good to have those alternatives that you can turn to and realize that maybe you’€™re taking an educated gamble but you’€™re also potentially building a lot of values in those guys, giving them an opportunity to put themselves into the core we’€™re developing.

It is a little harder to do at catcher sometimes, unless the player has those attributes that you’€™re looking for, someone who cares about his pitching staff, can call a good game and works hard to prepare. He does fit that criteria. Obviously he’€™s coming off of [thumb] surgery which makes him a little riskier. He hits right-handed pitching at this point better than left-handed pitching, so that makes it a little easier to find a complement. There are more right-handed hitting catchers out there. We’€™ll see what evolves.”

Earlier in the day, one of the top two catchers on the free agent market, John Buck, agreed to a three-year deal with the Florida Marlins. According to a source familiar with the situation, the Sox’ interest in Buck was limited due to the cost the 30-year-old was going to command in the open market, along with the fact Buck had produced at a high level offensively (.281, 20 home runs) for just one year.

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