Miami Marlins notebook

Miami Marlins’ Jarrod Saltalamacchia struggling defensively

 
 
Miami Marlins' Jarrod Saltalamacchia strikes out with the bases loaded against the San Diego Padres on Thursday, May 8, 2014, in San Diego.
Miami Marlins' Jarrod Saltalamacchia strikes out with the bases loaded against the San Diego Padres on Thursday, May 8, 2014, in San Diego.
Lenny Ignelzi / AP

cspencer@MiamiHerald.com

The season has turned into anything but a pleasant homecoming for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who is struggling at the plate and behind it for the Marlins.

When the Palm Beach County native skipped a throw into the outfield on Wednesday, he equaled Miguel Olivo’s team record for most errors in a season by a catcher with 12.

And there are still more than 60 games left.

“Definitely something I’m not proud of,” Saltalamacchia said. “I don’t like to make excuses for anything. It’s something I’ve been working on, got to continue to work on.”

Saltalamacchia is tied with Cleveland’s Yan Gomes for most errors by a catcher, and if matters don’t improve for him defensively, he could pile up the most errors by a backstop since Paul Lo Duca was charged with 15 in 2003 for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

While defense has never been Saltalamacchia’s calling card, the Marlins surely couldn’t have imagined him struggling this badly when they gave him a three-year, $21 million deal over the winter. Their most significant offseason acquisition in terms of a dollar commitment, he has already made twice as many errors as he did all last season with the Boston Red Sox. He has never committed more than nine in a season.

Using advanced metrics, he is the only catcher in the majors with a negative defensive WAR.

“It’s something he’s got to work on, he’s got to get better at,” said manager Mike Redmond, a former catcher. “That’s a lot of errors for a catcher, no doubt.”

Saltalamacchia and Redmond said the change in leagues could be a factor.

“The game’s different in the National League,” Saltalmacchia said of the transition moving to the NL from the AL, where he had spent eight of his nine previous seasons. “A lot of things are moving. A lot of different pieces. A lot more strategy. Things I’ve got to adjust to. Little by little, I feel I am.”

Saltalamacchia said it hasn’t been just one thing but pointed out “rushed throws” as one of his primary downfalls.

“Just slowing the game down, that aspect has been the biggest transition I’ve had to make,” he said. “Sometimes you try to get too big too quick, and that’s when errors can occur. For me, I think it’s more of a comfort level. You’ve been in one league for most of your career. You get comfortable. You get used to how guys play the game and you kind of anticipate certain things. The National League is a little different. I’m not used to these guys, so anticipating is a little tougher.”

Said Redmond: “It’s one of those things that when you rush throws against guys who can really run, sometimes that’s what happens. You can end up throwing wide, or short. That’s happened to him.”

Redmond hinted that backup Jeff Mathis could see more playing time. Mathis caught Brad Hand on Sunday and Jacob Turner on Tuesday. The two pitchers, who have struggled, turned in strong outings to post wins.

“It’s hot out there and we’re getting late in the season,” Redmond said. “[I’m] trying to keep Salty as fresh as we can. So I’ll try to get Mathis in there a little bit more to keep those guys fresh as we can for the rest of the season.”

COMING UP

•  Friday: Marlins LHP Brad Hand (1-2, 4.86 ERA) at Houston Astros LHP Dallas Keuchel (9-6, 3.29), 8:10 p.m., Minute Maid Park, Houston.

•  Saturday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (6-7, 3.85) at Astros RHP Jarred Cosart (9-6, 4.23), 7:10 p.m., Minute Maid Park, Houston.

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