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For the second straight game, Jarrod Saltalamacchia has found himself listed in the starting lineup not behind the plate, but at first base. Since Brian McCann first made his splash in the majors, seemingly everyone has had an idea what to do with 22-year old Saltalamacchia. First base quickly gained popularity after the offseason trade of Adam Laroche. Although the Braves front office denied any plans to move the top prospect from behind the plate, reports started to surface that he had been taking grounders at first and many fans assumed it was inevitable.
With the release of Craig Wilson, Bobby Cox and John Schuerholz gave Scott Thorman a chance to prove himself as an everyday player. Now, over a third of the way into the season, Thorman has hit a mere .225 and only 25 points lower against southpaws. After getting some late-inning play a couple games ago, Saltalamacchia got his first start at first yesterday against lefty Johan Santana and again today against another left-hander, C.C. Sabathia. Bobby Cox hasn't said yet that he will keep Salty in against lefties, but he did say that it is a good way to get the young catcher some at bats and playing time.
Saltalamacchia has looked OK at first so far in this trial by fire of sorts. You can't expect Salty to be flawless at a position he hasn't played in a game since high school but the bat should make up the difference in defense over Scott Thorman, who won't be winning a gold glove anytime soon. Let's face it, unless Scott Thorman picks it up very quickly, he is going to be seeing a lot of the bench pretty quickly. A switch-hitting top prospect with power, contact ability, and excellent plate discipline on a tear or a lefty who struggles to make contact. Sorry, but that decision isn't too tough for me and as the games pass I am sure it won't be too tough for Bobby either. As of now, Saltalamacchia is hitting .308 with two homers. Of course, while I'm writing this, Saltalamacchia gets another hit. It's only a matter of time.