BOSTON -- It had been a while since Blake Swihart played outfield -- five years ago in his senior year of high school, in fact -- but after some work there the past month in Pawtucket, the 24-year-old finds himself starting in one of the most unique outfield positions in Major League Baseball.
“It’s a lot different,” Swihart said. “It’s not as big a room to run around, so if it’s behind you, you’ve just got to try and do your best to get the ball into second as quickly as possible to keep them to a single and stuff like that.”
Swihart spent time in center field in high school, so his reads off the bat should continue to improve with practice.
“Everyday more and more instincts are taking over and everything is coming back to me -- everything I learned back [in high school],” Swihart said.
The major area for concern is how Swihart can handle the Green Monster -- so he’s spending time before game fielding balls off Fenway Park's 37 by 231 foot left field wall.
“Getting reads off the wall, what the bounces are going to be like [is the biggest adjustment],” Swihart explained. “If I want to play a little shallow or anything [gets] behind [is] going to be off the Monster I’ve just got to play it.”
He played his first game in left for the Red Sox on Friday night in a 4-2 loss to the Indians and caught four fly balls and handled a few off the Monster, including Carlos Santana's leadoff double.
The switch-hitting prospect should have a few more opportunities to prove his worth at the plate and in left with Brock Holt on the 7-day concussion disabled list. Holt is expected to be evaluated Tuesday.
Even though Swihart seems to have embraced the opportunity to be back with the big league club, he doesn’t expect left field to be where his career trends.
“I still want to be a catcher at the end of the day,” he said. “But for right now, this is what I need to do.”
Swihart also listed third base and shortstop as positions he frequented in high school, but it’s safe to say he won’t be filling in there for Boston any time soon.
Still, to say he won’t continue playing left in 2016 isn’t a safe prediction either. He started there again on Saturday.