Death, taxes, and Cesar Salazar taking a beating behind home plate.
Over the last two years, the Arizona Wildcats have seen their catcher go down after some sort of collision or deflected ball or whatever else many times, but he always gets right back up.
“He takes a lot of beating back there, but he’s a warrior,” JC Cloney said about his catcher after Friday night’s victory over the Oregon Ducks. “For him to play today it wasn’t a surprise to any of us.”
Salazar playing on Friday night was kind of a surprise because of what happened the previous night. On a play at the plate, Oregon catcher Tim Susnara cut up the Wildcats’ catcher right arm with an unintentional spiking, forcing Salazar to leave the game immediately.
“That’s a tough play at the plate and I’m proud of him for holding onto the ball,” head coach Jay Johnson said about the whole thing. “He’s tough but he was giving a little body language that he wasn’t feeling good.”
The next morning, Johnson and Salazar traded texts to make sure that Arizona would have its sophomore catcher ready and available for game number two of the series.
“Friday morning it was pretty swollen and it hurt a little bit but I wanted to play,” Salazar explained. “So I iced it a lot, texted skip right away and said ‘Skip I’m ready to go, I’m ready to play’ and when I came here our trainers did a really good job helping with it.”
“It still hurts a little bit, but there was no shot that I wasn’t going to play.”
It’s not like Arizona has a dearth of catchers either. Ryan Haug is a more than capable backup (and arguably a better defensive catcher), and the team has Cory Voss back there as well.
But being in the lineup is a source of pride for Salazar.
“I don’t like being (in the training room) very much because I don’t like to think I’m hurt,” he said. “Whenever I need something our trainers are fantastic and they do a really nice job. After a game I get treatment and after practices sometimes on my legs.”
In the last two years, Salazar has played in 96 of the team’s 108 games, and has started 85 of those. Even after this week where he took a ball off the neck against GCU, a cleat to the arm against Oregon, and another instance where he took a ball off the shoulder, he was still the one catching a bullpen session before Tuesday afternoon’s practice for Randy Labaut and Tylor Megill after starting all four games.
Tucson’s new iron man sits behind the plate at Hi Corbett.