Jarrod Saltalamacchia surgery set

Updated: September 27, 2010, 10:06 PM ET
By Gordon Edes | ESPNBoston.com

CHICAGO -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia should be back swinging a bat by the first of December after he undergoes surgery Tuesday to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb, his agent said Monday afternoon.

[+] EnlargeJarrod Saltalamacchia
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezJarrod Saltalamacchia's thumb was injured before he was traded to Boston, but the young catcher played on until about 10 days ago.

Tests showed a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in the catcher's left thumb, according to his agent, Jim Munsey. Saltalamacchia was at the Cleveland Clinic on Monday meeting with Dr. Thomas Graham, the same physician who operated on Kevin Youkilis' torn adductor muscle near his thumb. Graham explained to Saltalamacchia that an anchor would be inserted to assist in the healing of the ligament and part of the bone, Munsey said.

"He should be ready for spring training and raring to go," Munsey said.

Saltalamacchia injured the thumb while playing for Texas' Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City about a week before the trading deadline, Munsey said, but kept it to himself because he didn't want to jeopardize a possible trade. Saltalamacchia's future with the Rangers did not look promising after Texas traded for Bengie Molina and promoted Taylor Teagarden ahead of him.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said he understood why Saltalamacchia was reluctant to disclose the injury immediately after his trade to the Red Sox. He told the team about the thumb about 10 days ago.

"You've got to put yourself in his shoes," Francona said. "He comes over in a trade, goes to Triple-A, comes up, he's going to play. After your first game, I don't think you're going to walk into the trainer's room and say, 'By the way, my thumb hurts.'

"You're trying to do everything you can to show a new organization that you can play. That's kind of human nature."

Munsey said Saltalamacchia sustained the injury while receiving the ball awkwardly in a game.

Saltalamacchia appeared in just 10 games with the Sox, batting .158 (3-for-19). The thumb bothered the switch-hitter more when he was batting from the right side, Munsey said, when the left hand is on the bottom.

"I think what we saw we were kind of excited about," Francona said. "His running of the game, his energy behind the plate we really liked. He came out throwing real well. He worked with [catching instructor] Gary Tuck a lot. The thing we're disappointed about is that he was looking forward to working a ton with Tuck in the offseason."

Given the timetable Graham told Saltalamacchia, the catcher should still be able to get together with Tuck this winter if he chooses.

Munsey refuted published comments in the Boston Globe made by a psychotherapist who asserted that Saltalamacchia is not over the throwing problems that he experienced in Texas -- he had trouble returning the ball to the pitcher -- and that the issue is likely to surface again.

Dr. David Grand, identified in the Globe as a psychotherapist who specializes in trauma, told the newspaper he was "90 percent sure" that Saltalamacchia will have a recurrence of his throwing issue. Grand made that assertion even though he has never treated Saltalamacchia or examined his medical records. Munsey said he and Saltalamacchia told Grand they weren't interested in his help.

"He didn't get the remediation necessary to not have it," said Grand, who says he worked with catcher Mackey Sasser, who had a similar problem. "Based on my experience at all levels, it has to still be in his system, and with enough pressure, it will come out one way or the other."

Munsey said Saltalamacchia has not had throwing problems for several months and there is no expectation that they will return. He said Francona called Saltalamacchia, apologizing for the article and expressing confidence in the player.

Gordon Edes is ESPNBoston.com's Red Sox reporter. He has covered the Red Sox for 12 years and has reported on baseball for 25 years. Ask a question for his next mailbag here.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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