Thursday April 21, 2011 | 09:01 AM

Jarrod Saltalamacchia is supposedly the No. 1 catcher for the Red Sox. While he is batting only .194, he is hitting .250 against right-handed pitching. And the Angels are throwing a righty against Boston tonight.

The "back-up" catcher is Jason Varitek (left). He is batting .050 (1-for-20) and he caught Wednesday's game.

So who catches tonight?

If you're betting, put your nickel on Varitek.

Other players are still slumping, like Carl Crawford (.149) and Jacoby Ellsbury (.182), but Saltalamacchia is a less proven player. The Red Sox are counting on his potential, not his history.

Plus, the concern for "Salty" goes beyond his average. While he is hitting better than Varitek, Saltalamacchia's defense and handling of the pitching staff is in question.

The Red Sox are playing better, but the catching problem is just that ... a problem.

Boston is making one roster move with reliever Matt Albers returning from the DL, and Alfredo Aceves going back to Pawtucket.

Meanwhile, the Yankees and Bartolo Colon beat the blue Jays 602. Colon picked up his first win since 2009, going 6 2/3 innings (5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 7 K). As George King writes in the New York Post: "Time will tell if Freddy Garcia ... and Colon will hold up ..."

The Sea Dogs return to Portland tonight for a seven-game stand (with Easter off). The same hot player who left town last week are returning with solid numbers - Alex Hassan (.467), Will Middlebrooks (.349) and Tim Federowicz (.325).

Alex Wilson took the loss Wednesday night with his first rough outing  (3 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 3 K).

The bullpen looks good. Tommy Hottovy (1.13) went 3 innings (H, BB, 5 K), and Blake Maxwell (2.35) pitched two frames (3 K).

In Pawtucket, Andrew Miller (1.32) got his walks under control (two passes and 4 walks apiece in his last two starts) and went 6 innings (4 H, R, 3 K) ... Rich Hill (1.69) had his first clunker (2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 BB, K).

Salem lefty Wade Britton (12.54) got rocked in his first two starts. He was better Wednesday (5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K) ... 2010 first-round draft pick Kolbrin Vitek (.300) had three hits and has recovered from a 1-for-12 start ... Michael Almanzar (.184) had two hits.

I'll check in later from Hadlock Field.



About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

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