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Miami Marlins' catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia determined to become a leader

Miami Marlins' catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is optimistic heading into the 2014 season, and is hoping to become one of the team's primary leaders. Having been on Boston's World Series roster last season, the Palm Beach native knows what it takes to win.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

A member of a World Series team a season ago, Miami Marlins' catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia knows what it takes to win. Having earned a ring with the Red Sox in 2013, the West Palm Beach native understands the process of buying into a program and staying focused.

Saltalamacchia, who signed a three-year, $21 million contract, was Miami's biggest free agent signing. He isn't trying to sell what it takes to win, but rather become part of a culture change in an attempt to help the Marlins prevent a fourth consecutive last-place finish in the National League East.

"I'm not here to tell guys, 'This is how you do it. This is how you don't do it,'" he said in an interview with "I'm hoping we all have the same mindset, which is to win."

With the inconsistencies of right fielder Giancarlo Stanton and the departures of veterans such as Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, Miami has few vocal leaders to turn to. Greg Dobbs and Austin Kearns have been known as two key clubhouse leaders in the past, and in the process of becoming a leader, Saltalamacchia is hopeful that every player on the roster has a winning mindset.

"Get that mindset now, 'We're going to win this,'" Saltalamacchia said. "If you don't have that mindset, you're going to be shooting yourself in the foot."

For a team that lost 100 games last year, Saltalamacchia and the front office have high expectations. However, with a young pitching staff and lineup, the goals are justified.

One of the primary reasons Miami pursued Saltalamacchia was his offensive abilities. He batted .263 with 65 RBIs last season with the Red Sox, and will likely be placed in the middle of the batting order.

"He looks confident, he looks relaxed, and he looks comfortable right now, which is great," manager Mike Redmond said. "I've seen a lot of our pitchers kind of filter toward him and get to talk to him about their stuff."

In addition to his offensive capabilities, Saltalamacchia will become a key factor when Miami's youthful rotation is assessed. Beyond Jose Fernandez, who ideally likes pitching when Jeff Mathis is behind the plate, Saltalamacchia will be charged with handling the arms of young starters and relievers.

"We did our homework on Salty," general manager Dan Jennings said. "We did our homework on the person, first-and-foremost, about his leadership skills. Everything we had heard about him, all those characteristics shined through. We felt like he could be that first piece of the pie to put in place."

Just days into spring training, infielder Derek Dietrich praised the ability of Saltalamacchia to unite everybody in the clubhouse.

"I love the clubhouse we have," Dietrich said in a Sun-Sentinel interview."We're looser this year. [Jarrod Saltalamacchia] is doing a great job leading the guys and keeping it loose. He's a World Series winner and you watch these guys go about their business and how they interact with their other teammates, staff, trainers and you can learn something from all these guys.

Saltalamacchia attributed some of Boston's success to team chemistry, and after several spring workouts, he is confident both the Marlins' leadership and performance will be significantly improved.

"Chemistry," Saltalamacchia said. "You always hear about it. Going through it last year, I honestly believe that's one of the biggest things you have to have to be on a World Series team. You've seen St. Louis over the past few years, good chemistry. What we had last year, nobody could beat it. I think with the young group of guys we have this year, it could very easily be that chemistry."