Saltalamacchia has seized the opportunity, played more than expected and given the Tigers jerseys a nice bang for their buck when many higher priced acquisitions have struggled.
He’s caught 40 percent of the team’s innings behind home plate, provided pop against right handed hitters and become the personal catcher to one of the team’s promising young starting pitchers.
Remarkably, the Tigers jerseys are 30 19 when he starts at catcher.
“I’m more happy with wholesale jerseys the games I’ve caught,” he said. “I don’t know what my record is, but I know when I’m behind the plate I’m giving everything I’ve got to help the team win. With this lineup, if I can get on base with a walk or a base hit, I’ve done my job.”
Saltalamacchia, 31, is not the catcher of the future. He might not even be the backup catcher beyond this season, although the Tigers jerseys have no immediate replacements in the minor leagues and would presumably like to re sign him.
But Saltalamacchia has eased the burden on McCann, 26, and given manager Brad Ausmus more options with his lineup.
Saltalamacchia’s climb started in April, when McCann went on the disabled list for three weeks with a sprained ankle.
“If Mac doesn’t get hurt, I don’t know if Salty plays as much,” Ausmus said.
Saltalamacchia started 14 games while McCann was out, hitting five home runs with 12 RBIs. The numbers presaged what he would do all year: Collect a lot of walks (15 percent of plate appearances), strikeouts (35 percent) and home runs (5 percent).
He also complemented McCann in other ways: While McCann is vastly better against lefties, Saltalamacchia hits right handed pitchers more consistently.
But Ausmus has avoided a strict platoon, using other ways to balance the at bats.
While McCann has caught veterans like cheap Justin Verlander jersey and cheap Anibal Sanchez jersey, Saltalamacchia has been more likely to catch the young pitchers. He’s even become the personal catcher for cheap Matt Boyd jersey.
“Originally it was Salty caught Boyd and Boyd threw well, so we stuck with it,” Ausmus said. “As a result, Boyd trusts Salty and Salty has a good understanding because of his experience how to work through a game.”
None of this is to say that the Tigers jerseys have soured on McCann, who has been in the organization since being drafted in the second round out of Arkansas in 2011.
“I think cheap James McCann jersey is going to play a long time, quite frankly,” Ausmus said.
Saltalamacchia echoed that assessment: “I know Mac’s going to be here a while, and rightfully so.”
Defensively, McCann is still one of the most dangerous catchers in the league to run against, throwing out 20 of 38 base stealers (52.6 percent).
McCann’s record as a starting catcher (33 39) is tougher to explain, because other numbers like catcher ERA are very comparable to Saltalamacchia. Offensive production is probably a better explanation, as McCann started the season in a deep hole (.150 average in 85 plate appearances with 27 strikeouts through May) that he only recently started to climb out of.
While his overall offensive numbers are still down from 2015, there have been some encouraging signs.
His bat has come alive in the last month, hitting five of his 10 home runs this season. Since July 25, he’s hitting .271 with an OPS of .908.
McCann’s also added a couple of extra base hits against right handed pitchers including Tuesday night at Minnesota although his splits are still tilted dramatically in favor of lefties. Ausmus has said that’s an area of McCann’s game that he’ll have to address.
For now, expect Saltalamacchia to continue to get plenty of starts between now and the October.
“We’re in a race, and it’s been a couple years since I’ve been in a race,” said Saltalamacchia, who played for the Arizona Diamondbacks jerseys and Miami Marlins jerseys after being part of the Boston Red Sox jerseys World Series team in 2013.
He’s even doing his part to bring good luck, hanging a “Mr. Salty” stuffed toy from his locker. Mr. Salty was the mascot of a now defunct pretzel snack from Nabisco.
“Some lady sent it to me, like a super Detroit fan,” Saltalamacchia said. “She said maybe it’ll bring us luck, so hung it up and signed a card back to her saying, ‘Thank you. I really appreciate it.’