GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Even if it only were to come under dire circumstances, Tyler Saladino wants to be the best catcher he possibly can be. So the versatile infielder has spent some time at Camelback Ranch this spring working on his receiving skills, including catching prospect Spencer Adams' 20-pitch bullpen session on Thursday.
Saladino (and Jerry Sands, until he was designated for assignment in June) was the White Sox emergency catcher in 2016 but never got in a game behind the plate, though he caught bullpen sessions in the season thrown by John Danks and Miguel Gonzalez. There are few scenarios in which an emergency catcher has to get in a game, especially in the American League where pinch hitters are used more sparingly, but Saladino wants to make sure he's more than prepared if the alarm sounds for him to get behind the plate.
"Even if that situation were to come, it's not a typical one," Saladino said. "But we'd still be able to win a ballgame in that situation so I don't want to go back there and just kind of like go through the motions and just catch the ball. I want to get it done."
Saladino played catcher on travel ball teams as a kid, so he's not entirely bereft of experience there. Of course, the velocity, movement and control at the major league level can't be compared to little league, but an early return on his framing skills was positive.
"They said it wasn't too bad," Saladino said. (Omar) Narvaez said I looked pretty good. We'll keep working on it."
Saladino said he still needs to work on blocking balls in the dirt and hasn't tested out his arm throwing to second base. Manager Rick Renteria left the door open for Saladino to be a little more than emergency catcher -- "It's a valuable piece to have, if he's able to do that," he said Thursday -- but it's more likely the 27-year-old would only catch if something happened to the established catchers on the roster.
But if that opportunity does arise, Saladino wants to make sure he can actually succeed in it.
"I want to get used to receiving and being able to get strikes," Saladino said. "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."