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What Jason Varitek really taught Jarrod Saltalamacchia

02.18.12 at 11:09 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — If Jason Varitek has indeed caught his last game in a Red Sox uniform and will be retiring his spring, Jarrod Saltalamacchia will remember one act of kindness and generosity in particular.

Saltalamacchia was with the Braves in 2007 as a minor leaguer and made the trip to Fort Myers for a spring training game. He sent a Red Sox No. 33 jersey over to the Red Sox clubhouse to have the captain sign for him.

“He signed a jersey for me, and on it it said, ‘catch with pride.’ You take that and that’s what he’s done his whole career and I’m going to do the same.”

Now, ironically, Saltalamacchia – after taking over primary catching responsibilities in 2011 – is in position to assume the leadership role of the Red Sox pitching staff, with Kelly Shoppach and Ryan Lavarnway behind him.

Salty said Friday he hasn’t been preoccupied with whether Varitek will accept the minor league contract offer from the Red Sox and report to camp on Sunday.

“Honestly, I haven’t really though about it,” Saltalamacchia said. “I can’t assume anything. I don’t know where he’s at. I don’t know if he’s thinking about coming. I know they’ve offered him a minor league invite.

“I’m just preparing for myself. It’s like a game day, if I’m not playing, not in the lineup, I’m still going to prepare to play that day. So, I’m prepared for him to be here and for him not to be here.”

The final words of advice he take from Varitek?

“Just be yourself, be who you are,” Saltalamacchia said. “People are going to like you for who you are. People are going to respect you for what you do about your business. There’s a lot of little things as far as catching, that I learned. It’s mainly to be a good person, a good teammate and respect the game.”

Read More: Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, jarrod saltalamacchia, Jason Varitek
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