BOSTON -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia has finally shed Jason Varitek's shadow.
After his go-ahead grand slam that led the Red Sox to an 8-4 victory over the Yankees on Friday night, manager John Farrell was asked about Saltalamacchia's reputation in comparison to Varitek. Farrell said it's time to drop the comparisons.
"He's been extremely important. And more than anything, Salty has become his own guy," Farrell said. "And he's evolved into someone who is more aware of what his needs are as a player, where his strengths exist. … I think as the year has gone on, he's gained confidence in the consistency and routine that's provided and he uses.
"He knows where our starting pitchers are, he knows our pitches much more readily, and I think because of that confidence, he's been able to read swings much more clear and make more accurate pitch selections, or more appropriate pitch selections. He's evolving into a front-line catcher."
The 28-year-old, who enters free agency following this season, has come a long way since 2011, when he hit .235 and led the league with 26 passed balls (many of which came from catching knuckleballer Tim Wakefield). Entering Saturday, Saltalamacchia was hitting .263 with just seven passed balls.
With similar offensive numbers and growing trust of the pitching staff, the comparisons to Varitek had been natural.
"Jason's a mentor to everybody that's in the same uniform," Farrell said. "But not everybody is going to do it like Jason, and that's probably more the point I was trying to get to. Salty's his own guy, and he stands on his own feet. He's a much more confident player right now, and it's shown in his leadership skills on the field. That's leading a pitching staff or a pitcher on a given night through some tough spots. It's been great to see."