Struggling catcher dazed after foul ball on Saturday; Realmuto called up
MIAMI -- The Marlins placed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia on the seven-day concussion disabled list on Sunday morning after the 29-year-old was shaken up by a foul ball. The club recalled its No. 9 prospect, catcher J.T. Realmuto, from Double-A Jacksonville.
Saltalamacchia was dazed in the seventh inning of Saturday's 9-5 loss to the Braves at Marlins Park when he took a foul ball by Justin Upton off his mask. He played through it, but complained of dizziness after the game.
"Something just didn't feel right, so we had to make sure," Saltalamacchia said. "It's not like a sprained ankle, you can't play through it. It's serious. It can affect your whole life. It can affect your life in general. It's something you have to maintain and be 100 percent before you come back."
There are progressions a player must go through before getting cleared to play after sustaining a concussion. Saltalamacchia is confident his case is very mild. But he isn't taking any chances.
A year ago, Saltalamacchia was a teammate of catcher David Ross in Boston. Ross has dealt with the severities of concussions in his career.
"I've never had a concussion before," Saltalamacchia said. "Never been diagnosed, that's for sure. Normal symptoms, nothing major. But I knew something wasn't right. I saw David Ross go through it last year. Talking to him, it's nothing to play around with."
Saltalamacchia will be out a minimum of seven days. If he isn't ready to go after that, he can be transferred to the 15-day DL.
"There's no real timetable on these," the catcher said. "You've got to make sure it's 100 percent. In my head, I'm hoping it's fairly quick and it won't go past the seven days. I want to make sure it's 100 percent. I'm not helping the team going out there with a concussion, and definitely not helping myself. This is good for the team and good for me to get 100 percent."
Saltalamacchia, hitless in his last four games (0-for-13), has had his batting average drop to .237 on the season, with six home runs and 17 RBIs. The catcher also has struggled in the field.
Catchers, in general, withstand their share of abuse. During their series with the Brewers last weekend, Saltalamacchia was clipped in the back of the head by a bat on Scooter Gennett's follow-through.
But Saltalamacchia says he really felt something on Upton's foul tip Saturday.
Manager Mike Redmond, a former catcher, isn't sure why so many catchers are sustaining concussions.
"You don't know what it is," Redmond said. "If it's the weight of the mask now. Maybe we were [getting concussions] back then and just never said anything. It is definitely something you have to stay on top of, and there's a progression you have to go through to prove you're healthy and able to play. We'll follow those guidelines and go by how he feels. You just never know with these things."
Saltalamacchia made a throwing error in the ninth inning that led to an unearned run. Also, he had a tough time at the plate.
"It's tough to focus when you have a concussion," he said. "You might have not been able to focus as much. A little bit of dizziness. I can't say that's the reason."
Saltalamacchia had a rough month of May, batting .177 after he got off to a fast start in April, when he hit .301 with five homers and nine RBIs.
The 29-year-old catcher has appeared in 48 games, getting a bulk of the time behind the plate. Jeff Mathis, an established veteran, will step in and receive more playing time.
Realmuto will be making his MLB debut. He is batting .301 at Jacksonville.
In treating the concussion, Saltalamacchia has been advised to rest and stay clear of bright lights. He won't be in the dugout, and he got a ride to the ballpark on Sunday.