TORONTO — Christian Vazquez has been one of the best hitting catchers in baseball this season, ranking in the top 10 in most categories, including home runs (19), doubles (24), RBIs (59), and runs (57).
He’s also carried a heavy load. Tuesday night’s 4-3 loss to the Blue Jays was the 109th Vazquez has caught this season, the most in the American League and fourth overall in the majors.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia knows how difficult that is. He hit 25 home runs and drove in 59 runs for the 2012 Red Sox and caught 104 games.
“It’s tough to do that for a team like the Red Sox and in a division like the AL East because of the competition,” said Saltalamacchia, now retired after 12 seasons in the majors, including four with the Sox. “I would get to the park at 11 a.m. looking at scouting reports to be prepared for my pitchers. Catchers don’t get much time to work on their hitting.
“Christian has done a great job. He’s doing a lot of the team.”
Saltalamacchia, who is now with NESN as an analyst, said the grind is as much mental as physical.
“Christian’s offense is the best it has been and that’s probably because he has played a lot more and gotten more at-bats and been able to make adjustments,” Saltalamacchia said. “But that also wears you down. You have to take care of your body and get those days off to clear your mind.”
Manager Alex Cora plans to give Vazquez some extra days off in the coming weeks.
“He’s been doing an outstanding job,” Cora said. “But we’ll mix it up.”
The Sox called up Juan Centeno as their third catcher on Sept. 1, and he has yet to play. Cora said he would get in a game soon.
Sox president Sam Kennedy appeared on the team’s flagship radio station, WEEI, on Tuesday but revealed little about the firing of Dave Dombrowski or why he and ownership have so far declined comment on why the change was made.
“We just knew it would have been a wholly unsatisfactory experience given that we’re just not going to expand on the statements we provided [Monday],” Kennedy said.
“I understand the desire for one and the frustration for not having one, but given that we’re not going to expand on what we said in our press statement, it just wouldn’t have been satisfactory to anyone.”
Kennedy gave essentially the same answer to several questions about the team’s lack of accountability. He did say ownership supports Cora continuing as manager.
Assistant general managers Brian O’Halloran and Eddie Romero accompanied the team to Toronto.
Winding it down
The Sox are still mathematically alive in the wild-card race but understand they have little realistic chance.
That helps to explain why shortstop Xander Bogaerts and second baseman Brock Holt were out of the lineup on Tuesday. It was the first game Bogaerts had not started since Aug. 6.
“He’s been playing a lot. Brock, too,” Cora said. “Their effort has been great. We’ll stay away from them [Tuesday] and then they’ll play the rest of the week.”
Cora plans to give Rafael Devers a day off on Thursday ahead of Friday’s scheduled day off. Mookie Betts will likely be out of the lineup on Wednesday.
“Little by little, we’ll take care of them,” Cora said.
Relievers Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor will have their use dialed back.
Hernandez is being used as a reliever for the first time in his career and Taylor has made 66 appearances counting Triple A. He was in 48 games last season.
David Price accompanied the team on the trip and continues to throw.
The lefthander has made one start since Aug. 4 because of inflammation in his wrist. He could pitch next week.
Single A Lowell dropped the third and deciding game of the New York-Penn League championship series, 4-3 at Brooklyn.
Jay Groome started and allowed two runs on four hits in 2⅔ innings. Marino Campana homered for the Spinners. Lowell took a 3-2 lead in the seventh before Brooklyn scored twice in the bottom of the inning.
Lefthander Bobby Poyner gets the start on Wednesday in what will be a bullpen game. Jhoulys Chacin, who has retired nine of 10 batters since joining the Red Sox on Sept. 1, was bumped back to start on Thursday against Clay Buchholz, who will be facing the Sox for the first time in his career . . . Triple A hitting coach Rich Gedman has joined the coaching staff for the road trip . . . The Blue Jays had a moment of silence before the game to mark the death of former Cardinals outfielder Chris Duncan last week. Duncan’s brother, Shelley, works in baseball operations for Toronto . . . Major league teams will mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on Wednesday with a moment of silence before games. Players will wear a “We Shall Not Forget” ribbon on their caps and the ribbon will be displayed on the bases and lineup cards.