It was only fitting that the Shoppach move happened while the Red Sox were in Baltimore. It was at Camden Yards where Lavarnway provided the most dramatic game of his career, belting two homers on Sept. 27, when Boston was fighting to stay alive in the postseason race.
Lavarnway started Tuesday night's opener of a three-game series against Orioles lefty Wei-Yin Chen. Saltalamacchia generally has not started against southpaws this season.
"Any opportunity that I can get to show what I can do is appreciated," Lavarnway said. "Shoppach is a good teammate. I tried to learn what I could from him while he was here. Now it's time for me and Salty to take the reins."
For a couple of years now, the Red Sox have envisioned Lavarnway one day becoming the team's catcher of the future. Lavarnway should get plenty of chances to play for the rest of the season.
"Kelly was claimed by the Mets, and after having a nice season for us, he's going to finish his season for them and we'll have Ryan Lavarnway, who has been here waiting," said manager Bobby Valentine. "He will get a little more opportunity to play."
Lavarnway saw sporadic playing time since his promotion, hitting .083 (1-for-12) in seven games. Perhaps the increased workload will allow him to regain his groove at the plate.
"There wasn't as much of a defined role until today," Lavarnway said. "Any time you get more consistent playing time, especially as a young player, it helps. I haven't really had that where I'm not playing every day. Coming to the park expecting to play on an everyday basis would be something more up my alley."
How will the playing time shake out between Saltalamacchia and Lavarnway?
"There's not a concrete plan, no," Valentine said. "We want to try to play the guys that are going to help us win the most. Salty's an integral part of this group. We'll see if Ryan can become one."