The longest name in major league baseball history has finally landed in Pawtucket.

Two days after being traded from the Texas Rangers’ organization to the Boston Red Sox, Jarrod Saltalamacchia debuted for the Pawtucket Red Sox Monday night. In his first outing for the Red Sox’ triple-A affiliate, the 6’4”, 235-pound catcher walked in his first plate appearance and then was retired in his next four trips to the plate.

Despite his 0-for-4 performance in his PawSox debut, Saltalamacchia was optimistic about the way things have been going for him lately.

“The last four months I have been playing well,“and I am just looking to continue to do that here,” he said.

Saltalamacchia, once a top-prospect in the Braves minor league system, was traded along with Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz and Beau Jones to the Rangers for Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay at the 2007 trade deadline.

Just before Sunday’s trade deadline, Saltalamacchia was dealt for Chris McGuinness and Ramon Mendez in a move that felt like a long time coming for Red Sox brass and their fans.

Saltalamacchia, known to his teammates as “Salty”, acknowledged that he was aware of the rumblings and rumor mills in past seasons that once had him headed to Boston in exchange for Clay Buchholz.

“There have been three or four years where I’ve heard my name out there and thought it could be a possibility, but I have been at the point where I am focusing on making the big leagues and staying there,” Saltalamacchia said.

After going hitless in his debut, Pawtucket manager Torey Lovullo was not fazed by the lackluster offensive first-impression from his new catcher.

“I know he’s an offensive-minded catcher,” he said. “He got a couple of pitches that I know he would like to have back, and I’m sure he is going to be fine and start swinging the bat.”

In 63 games with Oklahoma City, the triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers in the Pacific Coast League, the switch-hitting catcher was hitting .244 with 11 home runs and 33 RBI.

“Overall, he has good bat speed, good balance and a good swing plane,” said Lovullo. “There was nothing bad there, so we will see where it takes him.”

On the season, the offensive numbers may be lackluster for a player who was ranked as the No. 18 prospect in the minor leagues by Baseball America in 2006. But the focus of late for Saltalamacchia has not been his bat. The real concern has been with Saltalamacchia’s troubled throwing arm.

Saltalamacchia was the Opening Day starter for Texas, but was placed on the disabled list after the second game of the year with a right shoulder injury. He was then designated to the minor leagues in May after struggling to throw the ball back to the pitcher.

“It was a physical issue that I allowed to become mental, and once I realized it was a physical issue the mental part went out of the way,” the catcher said.

The ailment that physically plagued Saltalamacchia was Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. The syndrome caused numbness down his right arm and into his throwing hand. The cause of the numbness was an impinged nerve near his collarbone, and he had it treated by having his first rib removed on his right side.

“I couldn’t feel anything– there were times I just couldn’t feel the baseball in my hand” Saltalamacchia said.

Lovullo admits that he knew plenty about Saltalamacchia before he arrived in the Red Sox organization. But prior to Saltalamacchia’s debut Monday, he had not seen him work a ballgame. The problematic throws back to the pitcher were news to Lovullo, but he saw no warning signs of trouble in Saltalamacchia’s first game with the PawSox.

“I guess that is something that has been on his track record, but I didn’t see that [Monday],” Lovullo said. “The idea is to get the ball back to the pitcher so he could get on the mound, and he was doing that.”

When asked about what he has done to remedy the situation, post-surgery Saltalamacchia admittedly said that he used to try to show off his arm by firing the ball back to the pitcher. After experiencing his troubles, he now displays a much more relaxed throw back to his batterymate to maintain control and conserve energy.

Given the physical and mental nature of the catcher’s struggles, both the player and his new coach agree that the change of scenery just might be the best thing to reinvigorate his career.

“All-in-all I think the bumps in the road were a good thing to have happen to me,” said a retrospective Saltalamacchia, who expressed how thrilled he was to be welcomed by his new organization and to be playing baseball back on the East Coast.

Dusty Brown will be the other catcher splitting time with Saltalamacchia in Pawtucket. The PawSox have a logjam on their roster at the catcher position, with five catchers currently milling around the Pawtucket clubhouse. However, three of them- Mark Wagner, Juan Apodaca and Gustavo Molina- are inactive and listed on the seven-day DL.

Lovullo was not immediately sure how he was going to split playing time between the two catchers, but he said that he was sure he was not looking forward to rationing playing time when the other catchers started being activated.

Saltalamacchia has been a name that has been familiar to baseball fans since 2007 when he made his major league debut on May 1 of that season. Despite being a guy who has been around for a while, Saltalamacchia is still just 25-years old.

With the hype that surrounded Saltalamacchia in the Braves and Rangers system, it is not out of the question for Red Sox Nation to be wishfully penciling him in as a catcher-of-the-future for Boston.

When asked about the potential of being a long-term replacement for current catchers Jason Varitek, 38, and Victor Martinez, 31, Saltalamacchia expressed eagerness for the opportunity.

“I know [Varitek] has a legacy here that speaks for itself, and I hope to continue that legacy for a long time,” he said.

For now, Saltalamacchia will continue to go to work every day in Pawtucket. With Varitek, Martinez and Kevin Cash the three catchers in Boston, Saltalamacchia’s services will not be needed immediately with the big club.

But despite the path to the big leagues not being immediately clear for him, he is accepting of the work that is still ahead of him to reach his goal of being an everyday major league catcher.

“I’d like for an opportunity right now, but it is something I’ve got to work towards and get myself,” Saltalamacchia said.

Boston general manager Theo Epstein and the rest of the Red Sox upper-management have wanted Saltalamacchia for quite some time. After a few wayward years between the majors and minors, Saltalamacchia appears rejuvenated at his new opportunity.

“I’m looking for a fresh start and it just makes me happy that somebody wants me,” he said.

With Saltalamacchia landing in Boston, it appears that at long last the Boston Red Sox and their new catcher are both getting their wish.

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