Wednesday, May 19, 2010
C Saltalamacchia seeing psychologist
By Richard Durrett
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia still is having trouble making an accurate throw back to the pitcher's mound, and he knows he won't return to the major leagues with the Texas Rangers until he figures it out.
"I don't think the organization is going to call me back up until I prove this is over with," Saltalamacchia said after playing for the Triple-A Oklahoma City RedHawks on Tuesday night. "And rightfully so."
And it's not because of his bat. Saltalamacchia is hitting .339 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 19 games at Oklahoma City. Meanwhile, the Rangers' replacements have combined for a .194 batting average this season.
Saltalamacchia, 25, started 82 games behind the plate for the Rangers last season, and he was scheduled to be the starter this season.
"At first I was like, 'Just leave me alone.' But it's out there and I have to deal with it," said Saltalamacchia, who's sought out the help of sports psychologist Harvey Dorfman. "What's frustrating me the most is this is the only thing keeping me from being back in the big leagues. I'm hitting. I'm catching. The only one thing is a simple throw back to the pitcher.
"I think it's a mechanical and mental issue. Once your mechanics change and you don't have success, you think about it."
He's using a timing mechanism -- tapping the ball in his glove twice before throwing -- to help him, but the problems that have plagued him creeped in during various points of the game Tuesday. He made some low throws, one-hopping one in the ninth. He threw one ball into center field and another to the second baseman, both with no one on base.
Saltalamacchia has also altered his grip on the ball. He used to throw with his index and middle fingers wide apart, almost like a splitter. He now has those fingers closer together. Saltalamacchia said he's trying to keep all of it in mind without overthinking things.
"It's like you're on a cliff and you tell yourself not to look down or don't look at that pink elephant in the corner of the room," Saltalamacchia said. "No one understands until they go through it themselves."
Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.