Baseball Report

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Hitting a ball is one of the hardest things to do in baseball, and a player who gets a hit three times out of ten is determined a success. But throwing a baseball is usually automatic, especially when a catcher throws a ball back to the pitcher.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia has had a different experience however, and it’s why he’s still playing at Triple-A Oklahoma City instead of in the major leagues with the Texas Rangers.

Saltalamacchia, a catcher, has had problems throwing the ball back to the pitcher. In a game two weeks ago, he threw a dozen wild balls back to the mound, with some sailing into the outfield.

But Saltalamacchia tried a new routine in a game last week, and was able to throw each ball back to pitcher Michael Kirkman, without error.

“I’m patting myself on the back, but it’s a long road,” Saltalamacchia said after the Redhawks 3-2 loss at home to Fresno. “It’s not like I’m healed and fixed, not that there was anything major wrong. But it’s something I’ve got to work on and continue to work on, just like behind the plate and hitting. It’s just part of my routine.”

A sports psychologist has tried to help Saltalamacchia. Coaches are trying to get him to use a higher arm angle instead of a lower release point. Saltalamacchia tried a different grip on the ball in Monday’s game, along with tapping the ball twice against his glove before throwing it back to the pitcher.

“It was probably the best game he’s had going back to the pitcher since he’s been here,” Oklahoma City manager Bobby Jones said. Every throw was right on the money.”

Saltalamacchia had surgery on his right shoulder last season after losing feeling in his arm. He was the Opening Day catcher for the Rangers last month, but was sent to Oklahoma City on a rehabilitation assignment. Although he’s hitting .325 with the Redhawks, Saltalamacchia hasn’t returned to the majors, where he is a career .253 hitter in parts of three seasons with Atlanta and Texas.

“I want to see how it goes and just do it day-by-day,” Saltalamacchia said. “There’s no doubt in my mind I’m ready, but I have to prove it.”

Quotable: “It’s his team, he can do whatever. That’s OK. He doesn’t understand that. He never played in the big leagues.” — Florida Marlins outfielder Hanley Ramirez on manager Fredi Gonzalez, a day after he was benched for loafing after a ball that he kicked into the corner, allowing two runs to score in a loss last week to Arizona.

Diamond Notes: The Milwaukee Brewers snapped their eight-game losing streak on Sunday with a 4-3 win at Minnesota. Corey Hart and Prince Fielder homered and Trevor Hoffman pitched a perfect eighth inning…Carlos Silva became the first Chicago Cubs starter in 43 years to have a perfect record after six decisions. Silva (6-0) came to the Cubs in a trade with Seattle for troubled outfielder Milton Bradley during the offseason…

Jose Lima, who spent 13 years in the major leagues with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros and several other teams, died of a heart attack on Sunday at his home in Pasadena, Calif. Lima, 37, pitched the Dodgers to their first playoff win in 16 years in 2004, and went 21-10 for the Astros in 1999, also making the All-Star team…Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt told the team that he would be open to a trade. He has 1 1/2 seasons left on a five-year, $73 million deal.

Copyright © 2010 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.

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