May 19, 2010, 3:45 PM EDT
Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s problems throwing the ball back to the pitcher at Triple-A have continued, so the 25-year-old catcher is now seeing a sports psychologist and Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com describes the various things he’s trying to get over the “yips”:
He uses a timing mechanism–tapping the ball in his glove twice before throwing–to help him. And for the most part, he made strong throws to the mound. But the struggles did creep in at various points during the game. 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.
Saltalamacchia is having no issues at the plate, hitting .338 with a .390 on-base percentage and .527 slugging percentage in 20 games at Triple-A, so getting over the throwing problems would likely get him back to Texas in a hurry.
I don’t think the organization is going to call me back up until I prove this is over with, and rightfully so. I know I can do it, so I don’t mind talking about it. At first I was like, “Just leave me alone.” But it’s out there and I have to deal with it. 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. 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. No one understands until they go through it themselves.
Texas’ catchers have combined to hit .188 with a .562 OPS that ranks second-worst in the league and Saltalamacchia has already had enough injury hurdles thrown in front of what was once a very promising future, so hopefully he can dispatch with the pink elephant and get his career back on track.
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