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A few hints about the catching situation

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  October 3, 2010 07:29 PM

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Theo Epstein spoke to reporters for 35 minutes after the game today. What I found the most interesting revelation was that he said Jarrod Saltalamacchia could "fill one role or another" as a catcher next season.

Meaning starter or backup.

Make no mistake about it, the Red Sox have a high regard for Saltalamacchia, a 25-year-old switch hitter who so far has a modest .701 OPS in 250 big league games and been injury prone in recent years.

It's not inconceivable that the Sox will try to start 2011 with Saltalamacchia as their starter with Jason Varitek mentoring him as a backup. That would free up significant money to fill needs elsewhere.

Epstein may have offered another hint when he was asked about the reception the fans gave Varitek today.

"It was great to see," he said. "I don't think anyone deserves that kind of reception from the fans more than he does. No matter what happens going forward, he's a Red Sock. More than any one of us, he's a Red Sock. The future's uncertain. The warmth the fans showed and his teammates showed and everyone else showed may have seemed like a good-bye, it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. I think there's uncertainty with our catching situation and we'll see how things turn out."

Victor Martinez, for the first time, spoke at length about his pending free agency.

"I was pretty clear. I said earlier I wanted to be here," he said. "But now that I've got a chance to go through the free agency, we'll see what happens. We'll see what happens," he said.

It seems telling that the Sox did not negotiate with Martinez other than to offer him a two-year deal they knew he would reject,

The Red Sox will be cautious about investing four years in Martinez. Yes, he can play first base. But the free agent market next winter could be loaded with big-time first baseman (Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols) the Red Sox may want to pursue.

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