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09/02/08 8:28 PM ET
Saltalamacchia out for rest of season
Veteran catcher Laird unhappy he's not playing every day
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Gerald Laird wants to play every day. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is not going to play at all. Taylor Teagarden has gone from a backup catcher on the Olympic team to a part-time catcher at the Major League level. The Rangers catching situation remains unsettled, and the latest development is Saltalamacchia is out for the season. He suffered a strained muscle in his right forearm in Monday night's game against the Mariners and will be sidelined for 6-8 weeks before he can begin baseball activities again. Laird, Saltalamacchia and Teagarden were expected to split time down the stretch. Now it will be Laird and Teagarden sharing time for the final 23 games. Laird is not happy about it. "It's not what I expected," Laird said. "I will say the team definitely has a decision to make. I'm kind of tired of dealing with this. I think they owe it to all of us to settle the situation. I want to have the opportunity to play without worrying about a young guy coming up and taking my job." General manager Jon Daniels said the Rangers still have a high regard for Laird. But Daniels is also realistic about the Rangers' place in the standings and wants to use September to get a good look at Teagarden. "I understand Gerald is frustrated," Daniels said. "He wants to play, and that's a good thing. But it's September, and we have an opportunity to see Teagarden play, especially with Salty down. We're going to take advantage of it. ... It would be different if we were not out of it." Catching depth is one of the strengths of the organization. Max Ramirez was up earlier this season and is expected to rejoin the Rangers after Triple-A Oklahoma is done with the Pacific Coast League playoffs. The Rangers received interest in all four catchers at the July 31 Trade Deadline but chose to keep all four. They would be interested in trading catching for pitching but haven't received an offer that makes sense to them. "We're looking to improve the club, not trade a catcher," Daniels said. "If something is out there that improves the club, we'll look at it. We're going to do what's in the best interests of the team. If that's Gerald, Taylor or Salty as the guy, we'll do that. If it's a combination of guys ... keeping guys fresh ... we'll do that. We have to be open, but right now it's more of an evaluation period. Right now we're looking at Taylor." Laird started the season as the Opening Day catcher. But Saltalamacchia, after starting the season at Triple-A Oklahoma, was called up four weeks into the season after the Rangers got off to a slow start. The two shared duties until Laird pulled a hamstring muscle in June and went on the disabled list for five weeks. He was activated on July 26, and manager Ron Washington made him the No. 1 catcher, leaving Saltalamacchia as the backup. Laird was in the lineup Tuesday, marking the 28th time in the last 36 games that he has started. But now Washington is planning to catch Laird and Teagarden equally down the stretch. "I love it here and want to play here," Laird said. "I just want the chance to play every single day. I just want them to make a decision. I don't think it's fair to have to deal with this next year. They want to take a look at the young guys; that tells me my time is limited here." Saltalamacchia injured his arm making an awkward sidearm throw to first base. The ligament appears fine but the muscle is inflamed. Saltalamacchia is planning to get a second opinion. "It's good that it's not as bad as I thought it was going to be. There's just a little pain," Saltalamacchia said. "In a few weeks I'll be able to start some throwing exercises. I was excited for the chance to get more playing time, though, so it stinks. I've been pushing myself really hard the last few weeks, throwing every day, so maybe this is my body's way of telling me I need to back off a bit." Saltalamacchia has hit .357 since July 12, raising his batting average from .211 to .254. He also had thrown out six of the last 22 basestealers after starting the season 1-for-25. "This year didn't go like I wanted," Saltalamacchia said. "I didn't play as much as I would have liked, but after the All-Star break, I felt like I was starting to hit the way I wanted to and I was starting to catch the way I wanted to."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.