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John Farrell: Jarrod Saltalamacchia ‘would be our lead catcher right now’

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The way Red Sox [1] manager John Farrell [2] looks at his catching situation, Jarrod Saltalamacchia [3] and David Ross [4] is not a platoon situation. It’s much better.

Still, Farrell made it clear on Tuesday, two days before the Red Sox begin playing games, that Saltalamacchia is still his choice as the No. 1 catcher on the roster, with Ross providing a very capable back-up.

There has been some talk this spring that a platoon could develop with the pair, as the switch-hitting Saltalamacchia has 50 of his 64 career home runs from the left-handed side of the plate.

“The majority of his home runs came left-handed and again, I want to be careful, I’m not outlining a platoon,” Farrell said. “Salty would be our lead catcher right now. But we know that we have a very capable No. 2 guy, and I think the one thing we’ve always viewed the catching position as a two-man situation, knowing that there’s a lead guy, and that would be Salty.

“We’re fortunate to have the flexibility in the addition of Ross but I can’t see a drastic rededuction in the number of at-bats from Salty.”

Ross, meanwhile, has 54 of his 84 career homers against left-handed pitching. As for the catching duties and comfort levels between the pitchers and the Red Sox catching duo, Farrell will let that play itself out over the spring and into the season.

“I haven’t gotten to the point where he’s going to handle one guy in the five, every five-day rotation. There’ll be a natural break to it, day game after a night game. Certainly, that will come into play but if there are favorable match-ups, we’ll certainly take advantage of that.

“The one thing we knew going into this year is that David is more capable than a traditional back-up catcher, where it’s 35, 40 games. There’s more there. There isn’t a number of games earmarked or ‘X’ number of a games per week.”

“We’ll see how that unfolds, if certain guys work better because of rapport. The one thing I don’t want to create is [reliance on a single catcher]. We want all our pitchers to throw to both catchers, and don’t want that to be a reason as to not go out and perform to the best of their abilities. So, we’ll see how that unfolds and the rapport that is generated.”

Farrell made it very clear he plans to communicate frequently with his catchers to keep both fresh over the course of 162 games.

“The one thing is you want to be consistent with players,” Farrell said. “And each guy in our catcher’s case, left-handed [batter] with Salty and right-handed [batter] with David, you want to be consistent with them so when they come to the ball park, they know what’s expected. They know there’s a matchup the day before, and each guy would know the day before when they left the ball park who would be catching the next. Again, to sit here today and say how many games each guy is going to catch is probably a little premature.”

As a backup to Brian McCann [5] in Atlanta in 2012, Ross caught 54 games, 47 as a starter.

“I don’t want it to get to the point where there are other reasons a guy might want a individual catcher,” Farrell said. “As of today, it’s not designed as Ross would catch Jon Lester [6] [for example] every time he goes to the mound. We’re not going into the season with that thought right now. As we go through the first 40, 50 games, we’ll probably get a better read on where a comfort level might exist with a certain battery but I don’t want to go in saying this is what it’s going to be right yet.”

One thing that won’t be likely this spring is seeing Saltalamacchia, or Ross for that matter, backing up Mike Napoli [7] at first base.

“No we haven’t had that conversation, haven’t looked at that,” Farrell said. “We feel Napoli is going to be fine and, regardless of left-handed, right-handed starter, is going to be the guy.”

For more, visit the Red Sox team page at weei.com/redsox [8].