Baseball: Salvi relishes role as Carmel backstop
Carmel catcher John Salvi makes a play at the plate during earlier action this spring. | Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 4, 2012 11:10AM
The life of a baseball catcher is one of the most thankless in sports.
More equipment is required (mask, chest protector, shin guards) than other positions, as is more intellect (calling pitches). Plus, catchers are in a crouched position, on the receiving end of baseballs being thrown from more angles than a Jedi fighter approaching the Death Star.
Yet Carmel catcher John Salvi doesn’t complain. He thinks he’s got it pretty good.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Salvi said. “Personally, for me, it’s awesome being a catcher.”
Now, the source of Salvi’s eagerness to don the body armor is a 6-foot-2, fireballing senior lefty named Alex Young. In a game against Notre Dame on Monday, not one of Young’s 97 pitches hit the ground, lessening the strain on the receiver’s knees and legs.
A potential Major League Baseball draft choice, Young’s starts also provide Salvi with an opportunity to bridge that awkward conversation gap between catcher and umpire.
“I like talking to umpires about how good (Young) is,” Salvi said. “Before the game, they ask, ‘How are you doing this year?’ I say, ‘When this kid’s on the mound, its an automatic win.’ The inning after, (the ump) was, like, ‘Now I see what you’re talking about.’ ”
And while Young’s fastball/curveball/change-up reportoire may not scratch dirt, someone must provide a steady target. That’s where Salvi steps in. A two-year starter in baseball and football, the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder brings a gritty gridiron mentality to the position, combined with that touch of intellect, as Salvi calls most pitches.
“He’ll take a ball in the neck, the back and keep playing. He’s rough around the edges but when it boils down to it, he’s the guy you want in the game,” said Carmel coach Joe May. “He gets everything out of his talent. Everything.”
Leading the team in putouts (109), Salvi has committed just two errors this season. His strong arm, combined with his instincts, makes Salvi a solid catcher for a Corsairs staff that goes four-deep (Young, Matt Ryan, Dalton Wright, Quentin Sefcik).
And Salvi is grinning like a kid, while enjoying the last season of his high school career.
“This pitching staff is amazing. It’s great to sit back and catch strikes. It makes me look good,” Salvi said. “This is my last sport at Carmel. We want to be able to remember something.”
Recap: Young’s no-hit streak of 10 innings was stopped in the sixth inning of Carmel’s 8-1 win over Notre Dame on Monday. He gave up his only two hits of the game in the sixth. His line was typically dominating: 5 2/3 innings, no earned runs, nine strikeouts and two walks.
Young (4-1, 0.30 ERA) has struck out 41 while walking just 13 (3.15 K/BB ratio).
“This team is really comfortable when Alex pitches, as we know we’ll be in the game,” May said. “We don’t want them getting too comfortable, as we need to score runs.”
The Corsairs (13-8, 5-2) did just that on Monday. Duncan Amrein (2-for-3) had three RBI, and Blake Bucsa (2-for-3) had an RBI and scored two runs. Salvi and Young each added an RBI.
Carmel dropped a 3-2 decision to St. Viator on April 25. Amrein took the loss, allowing three runs in four-plus innings. JT Klahs, J.C. Pawlack and Sefcik were scoreless in relief.
On deck: The Corsairs visit Marist for a doubleheader on Saturday. Game times are set for 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.