Re: Sunday night game thread:Cubs @ Red Sox James Russell vs. Tim Wakefield
posted at 5/22/2011 7:10 PM EDT
BOSTON --Tim Wakefield's occupying a slot in the Red Sox starting rotation may have posed a problem not too long ago, back when it seemed only Doug Mirabelli possessed the ability to catch Wakefield's knuckleball.
There are no such concerns these days.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia will catch Wakefield on Sunday night, and manager Terry Francona said he no longer worries much about who to stick behind the plate when his veteran knuckler is on the hill.
"[Saltalamacchia has] done a pretty good job [catching Wakefield]," Francona said. "All those years we always panicked, or maybe I should say I did, about somebody that was going to catch Wake, and we had such a difficult time doing it. Now we've gotten to the point where even the guys in spring training seemed to handle it."
Francona credited bullpen coach and catching instructor Gary Tuck with much of that progress.
"Gary Tuck probably has something to do with that," he said. "His drills and beating those guys up so much -- the game is actually sometimes easier. They've done a really good job."
Saltalamacchia has caught the majority of Wakefield's innings so far this season, registering one passed ball while catching the right-hander, in April against the Rays.
Overall, though, Francona likes the rhythm his catchers have found of late, with Saltalamacchia starting three times through the rotation and Jason Varitek two. Varitek has been catching Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka, and, with the latter on the disabled list, will assume the duties of catching fill-in Alfredo Aceves.
Said Francona, "I like the way we've been doing it."