It’s not my desire to start a debate about the Braves trade for Mark Teixeira from a few years back, even if some consider it one of the greatest disasters mankind has ever witnessed while general manager Frank Wren told me, “The Teixeira trade hasn’t impacted us at all. If you look at the players we gave up, I’m not sure it’s had any effect on the major league club.”
But Wren certainly is correct about one guy the Brave gave up: Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
The dude is stuck in the minors with the Oklahoma City RedHawks.
Because he can’t throw.
Back to the pitcher.
Remember the movie, “Major League II”? There was a minor-league catcher in Cleveland Indians spring training named Rube Baker, who couldn’t throw the ball back to the pitcher. His manager, Jake Taylor, solved the problem by helping Baker clear his mind, I believe with a Playboy magazine. (Important update: Alert readers have pointed out it was actually a lingerie catalog. Accuracy is import, even in matters relating to soft-porn.)
(By the way, I highly recommend this list of Rube Baker quotes.)
Well, that’s pretty much where Saltalamacchia is at. The former Braves’ catching prospect — considered the key piece in the Teixeira deal with Texas at the time — can’t get the ball back to the pitcher. His throwing problems last year originally stemmed from a shoulder injury and eventually something diagnosed as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. He ended up having a rib removed in surgery in September.
But now, the problem isn’t physical at all. It’s in his head.
In Salty’s last game, Tuesday night at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, 12 of his throws back to the pitcher landed either short of the mound or in center field. He had five errant throws in the first inning alone.
“He’s just got to keep playing until he gets it right,” RedHawks manager Bobby Jones said. “I don’t know what else to do. It’s a shame. It’s definitely what’s keeping him here. He’s blocking the ball well and swinging the bat well. He’s just got to figure it out. It’s a shame.”