Red Sox reunion helps provide closure for Salty
Catcher moves past lack of big offer from Boston, ready to start anew in Miami
JUPITER, Fla. -- Before taking the field on Thursday, Jarrod Saltalamacchia reunited with old friends and former Red Sox teammates. But once it was time for business, the 28-year-old was squarely focused on his new beginning.
After spending parts of the past four seasons with the Red Sox, Saltalamacchia is now a core piece in the Marlins' rebuilding process.
The Red Sox represent the catcher's past, and the Marlins his future. On Thursday, the two sides played to a scoreless tie in a game that was stopped with two outs in the eighth inning due to rain at Roger Dean Stadium.
Saltalamacchia went hitless in two at-bats, with a flyout to center and a grounder to second.
"It's not too far removed, so it's not that big of the deal," Saltalamacchia said. "But obviously being there for four years and not there is a little different."
Now that the game has been played, and he has seen teammates that he won a World Series championship with a year ago, Saltalamacchia is ready for some closure.
"I'm ready to move on, ready to start that chapter here," he said. "They had a lot of history there, but it's time to start some history here and win a World Series for ourselves."
Marlins manager Mike Redmond, a former catcher, knows players get a little more fired up to face their former teams.
"You probably ramp it up a little bit more any time you play your former team," Redmond said. "At the same time, too, it's an exciting day for him. To get to see his teammates, guys he won a World Series with and get a chance to talk with them. ... I think once you've accomplished that goal with a group of guys, you're always friends for life, no matter if you're playing for a different team or not."
The fact the Red Sox were in Jupiter the day before to take on the Cardinals gave Saltalamacchia a chance to get some of the pleasantries out of the way before Thursday.
"At the same time, too, he's a Marlin now," Redmond said. "I know how much he's enjoying that and how much he means to our ballclub."
Signing Saltalamacchia was the Marlins' top offseason priority. After he didn't receive a serious offer to return to Boston, he weighed about six other opportunities. In early December, he opted to play close to his Palm Beach County home, inking a three-year, $21 million deal.
Adding Saltalamacchia was the first of a handful of free-agent signings who bring winning experience to Miami.
With the Red Sox last year, Saltalamacchia was with a team that prided itself on tremendous chemistry. Saltalamacchia remains close with a number of his former teammates. They had a text group they started in '13, and Saltalamacchia has remained on it since.
"We'll be friends for a long time," Saltalamacchia said. "Those are memories that will last forever. You don't want to live on those. You want to start some new ones. We have a great thing here, and that's what I'm looking forward to doing."
Early Thursday morning, Saltalamacchia had a chance to speak with his former manager, John Farrell.
The two communicated in the offseason, first after Saltalamacchia signed with Miami, and at the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
"He was very much part of what I would consider the closest-knit team I've ever been around," Farrell said. "That clubhouse camaraderie and having one another's back and supporting one another, that's critical. It translates, I think, to on-field play and maybe a chance to push late in the game to win some games. He was a big part of that."
Saltalamacchia's presence already has been felt in the Marlins' clubhouse and on the field. On Tuesday, he belted the go-ahead home run in a 3-1 win over the Twins.
Redmond and pitcher Jose Fernandez were sitting next to each other in the dugout when that occurred. The two chuckled, and Redmond later said the team has a feeling this could be a fun season.
"I hope so. I know on my side, it feels like it," Saltalamacchia said. "We've got to depend on each other and not have one guy carry the team. That's something that happened last year. A different guy stepped up every night. That's how it's got to be. We've got to play the game right. We've got to play it hard, baserunning, everything."