Tyler Saladino embraces emergency catcher role

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Tyler Saladino was a catcher as a kid, strapping on the tools of ignorance on his travel baseball teams on a regular basis.

As a pro, he is an infielder who can also play outfield. He might also add catcher to the list of positions he has played in the majors (first base, second base, third base, shortstop, left field) if manager Rick Renteria gets in a bind.

“It has been a while but it’s not foreign to me,” Saladino said.

To stay familiar, Saladino caught 20-25 bullpen pitches from prospect Spencer Adams on Thursday. Adams has better stuff than those travel ball pitchers, so there’s that.

Tyler Saladino has played all four infield positions and the outfield for the White Sox. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

“More velo and a lot better movement with these guys,” Saladino said Friday. “I want to get used to receiving and being able to get strikes. Not take a sinker and turn it over and it would have been a strike and it’s like ‘Oh, I caught it.’ I actually want to try to get strikes.”

So Saladino wants to be a good pitch framer.

“[Omar] Narvaez said I looked pretty good [at it],” Saladino said. “We’ll keep working on it.”

Narvaez and Geovany Soto figure to be the the catchers who make the Opening Day roster, so consider that high praise.

Jerry Sands and Saladino were the emergency backups last year. Saladino said he caught John Danks and Miguel Gonzalez in the bullpen to stay sharp. Before Sands, who caught some in college, left the team,  “we were both back and forth like, ‘If this really happens, we’ll flip a coin for it,’ ” Saladino said.
“If that situation were to come, it’s not a typical one,” Saladino said. “We’d still be able to win a ballgame  so I don’t want to go back there and just go through the motions and just catch the ball. I want to get it done.”