TORONTO -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia's brief tenure with the Blue Jays has come to an end after the veteran catcher was designated for assignment on Friday afternoon.Luke Maile was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo to take over Saltalamacchia's role as Toronto's primary backup to Russell Martin. The 26-year-old Maile was claimed off
TORONTO -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia's brief tenure with the Blue Jays has come to an end after the veteran catcher was designated for assignment on Friday afternoon.
Luke Maile was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo to take over Saltalamacchia's role as Toronto's primary backup to Russell Martin. The 26-year-old Maile was claimed off waivers from the Rays earlier this month and was hitting .195/.214/.195 for the Bisons.
Saltalamacchia was supposed to bring some offensive upside to the backup catcher position, but it never worked out. He had just one hit in 25 at-bats, while frequently struggling to make contact, as evidenced by 16 strikeouts. His defense, particularly throwing out baserunners, was always an issue, and combined with the bat being a liability, it cost him a spot on the team.
"We brought Salty in looking for some offense," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We weren't getting much of that. In all fairness to him, he wasn't playing steady enough to get it going, so we brought up a guy who's a known defender. We've got a tough pitching staff to catch. But Salty ... love everything about him. He showed up to play, he played to win, and it just didn't work out."
Toronto signed Saltalamacchia to a Minor League contract just before the start of Spring Training. He faced competition from Juan Graterol, but all along it was his job to lose, and he ended up breaking camp with the Blue Jays. However, his prolonged struggles became an issue for a team that is struggling to generate runs.
Maile likely won't do a lot of damage with the bat, but he does offer a much better defensive skill set than his counterpart. He has drawn a lot of positive reviews for his work with the Rays' pitching staff, and there was a chance he was going to be the club's primary catcher in 2017 before Tampa Bay signed Derek Norris midway through camp.
"I try and stay away from the labels," said Maile, who is a career .214 hitter in 54 big league games. "I definitely had the label of being a defense-first guy, but I feel like I'm young enough and I feel that I've improved enough in the last couple years to maybe change that and kind of become a little more all-around. Certainly the defense comes first, pitching staff comes first, but I'm not going to be shy about trying to drive some runs in."
In other roster news on Friday, Toronto optioned right-hander Casey Lawrence to Triple-A Buffalo and recalled left-hander Matt Dermody. Lawrence made a pair of starts for the Blue Jays while Aaron Sanchez was on the disabled list, but he was roughed up for six runs on 10 hits over five innings during his final appearance on Thursday night.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.