ATLANTA -- Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia first met Jeff Bauman of Chelmsford, Mass., when the Red Sox visited those injured by the bombings at last year's Boston Marathon. From there, a friendship was born.
"He made things easy," Saltalamacchia said. "We're in a hospital not knowing what to say, and he was like, 'Hey, you guys want to go to the store?' He just opened it up and was just a really cool guy."
Saltalamacchia texted Bauman -- who lost his legs in the bombings -- on Sunday night to congratulate him on his soon-to-be wife's pregnancy. He hopes Bauman will throw him batting practice during the upcoming offseason.
"He's got new legs, so he was walking on those," Saltalamacchia said. "They showed him out there [at Fenway Park] throwing BP to some of the guys for early BP, so that was pretty cool to see."
Saltalamacchia remembers the commotion and confusion surrounding the bombings that killed three and injured Bauman, among many others. The days that followed were filled with uncertainty for the Red Sox and the citizens of Boston.
"When we left, we had no answers," said Saltalamacchia, who first heard news of the bombings while boarding a team bus en route to the airport for a three-game road trip to Cleveland. "We had no clue what was going on."
Saltalamacchia and the Red Sox returned to Boston from Cleveland on April 18, but they did not play the Royals the next day as scheduled. The ongoing pursuit of suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev led to an area-wide shutdown.
"We were on lockdown," Saltalamacchia said. "Kansas City came to town, and they weren't allowed to leave the hotel. We weren't allowed to leave our apartments. It was scary. We couldn't do anything."
Even after police captured Dzhokhar, Saltalamacchia said there was tension as the Red Sox and Royals headed to Fenway Park on April 20.
"It was a lot of emotion because everyone's been locked up a few days trying to figure out what's going on. Is there going to be another attack? Is this it?" Saltalamacchia said. "So going to the park that day, I think a lot of guys were a little scared. First big-venue game after all this, what's going to happen?"
But Saltalamacchia said the first game back in Boston and the experiences he shared with the victims last year is something that "sticks in your mind forever." Despite leaving Boston to sign with Miami during the offseason, Saltalamacchia remains close with Bauman and others he met in the tragedy's aftermath.
"I can remember everyone I went and visited that day," Saltalamacchia said of his first encounter with the victims. "I'm not really good with faces or names, but that just kind of sticks in your mind. They came out to the stadium a lot, all of the victims, and we honored them as much as possible, because they were heroes in our minds."
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less