Jarrod Saltalamacchia Has A Strange Case Of The Yips

The formerly-prized prospect can call a game. He can scoop a ball in the dirt. He can definitely hit. The only thing he can't do is throw the ball back to the pitcher.

Saltalamacchia's tearing up the PCL for the Oklahoma City RedHawks, but one little thing is holding him in Triple A:

RedHawks catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia would be back in the major leagues if he didn't have a problem throwing the ball - not to an infielder, but back to his pitcher.

In Salty's last game, Tuesday night at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, 12 of his throws back to the pitcher landed either short of the mound or in center field. He had five errant throws in the first inning alone.

"He's just got to keep playing until he gets it right," RedHawks manager Bobby Jones said. "I don't know what else to do. It's a shame. It's definitely what's keeping him here. He's blocking the ball well and swinging the bat well. He's just got to figure it out. It's a shame."

You know it's a strange situation when the player and his coaches are rushing to blame his health. Saltalamacchia had shoulder surgery in September, and everyone's eager to pin his throwing problems on that. I suppose it's better than the alternative: that it's gotten to him mentally. Those yips have destroyed many a career.

But it's kind of funny because, technically, throwing a ball back to the pitcher isn't a necessary skill. He could walk it out to him, or rely on the ump to dip into his bag of new balls. If the Rangers thought he could keep up his .359 batting average in the bigs, they'd call him up today, along with a designated ball escort.

OKC catcher: just trying to play catch [okcredhawks.com]