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Jarrod Saltalamacchia takes stock of a looming milestone

09.13.12 at 1:34 pm ET
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Jarrod Saltalamacchia is second among big league catchers in homers this year. (AP)

Jarrod Saltalamacchia is a team-first catcher who measures his success not in his own statistical line but instead the Red Sox’ wins and losses. By that taken, he understands that the 2012 season has been a grave disappointment.

On a personal level, too, Saltalamacchia has his quibbles. His season has been divided into distinct and seemingly unrelated chapters. He has gone through spells in which he has been as ferocious a hitter as any on the Red Sox, and at other times, he’s struck out in staggering volume.

“I haven’t been consistent like I want to be,” said Saltalamacchia, now hitting .232 with a .293 OBP, .480 slugging mark and .773 OPS. “We’re trying to win games, so personal accomplishments go out the window, trying to do too much.”

And so Saltalamacchia could not revel in what was an extraordinary night on Wednesday. He went 3-for-3 with a double, triple and his 24th homer of the season, along with a walk. It was the first time in his career that he had three extra-base hits in the same game, and the second time in his career that he reached base every time he stepped to the plate while taking at least four plate appearances.

Moreover, the homer edged him closer to what would represent a somewhat extraordinary milestone for the catcher. With 24 homers this year, Saltalamacchia now is within two of the franchise record for homers in a season by a catcher. Only Carlton Fisk (who hit 26 twice, in 1973 and 1977) and Jason Varitek (who hit 25 in 2003) have gone deep more times in a catching season than Saltalamacchia — who missed the previous three games due to back spasms — has done this year.

And so as much as he is inclined to downplay personal accomplishments, Saltalamacchia cannot help but take some pride in the fact that he is enjoying such select company. After all, Fisk is a Hall of Famer and Varitek is someone whom Saltalamacchia reveres as the embodiment of catching excellence.

“I think it would be awesome. You look back at Tek’s legacy, Fisk’s legacy — Fisk was a good hitting catcher, and Tek won two World Series, four or five no-hitters. To me, stuff like that is more an accomplishment for catchers rather than the home runs, but when you’re able to break records like that, you’re excited,” said Saltalamacchia. “It would be a cool accomplishment. I’d be excited. There are not too many times in your career when you get to accomplish certain milestones and break records. At any point, if you’re able to do that, it’s great.”

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