Red Sox

Red Sox

BOSTON -- Blake Swihart is back with the Red Sox. This time, however, it's primarily as an outfielder and not a catcher.

Swihart, who began the year as part of the club's catching tandem with Ryan Hanigan, was optioned to Pawtucket when Christian Vazquez was activated from his rehab stint. Once there, the Sox had him playing the outfield to help expand his versatility and create ways he could help the major league club this season.

It didn't take long to get him into the lineup, either -- Swihart was in left field, batting ninth, Friday night against Cleveland. He'll play left field regularly against right-handed pitchers, with Chris Young starting against lefties.

"He adapted, by all accounts, pretty rapidly [to left],'' said John Farrell. "I think that speaks to his work ethic and openess to add the outfield to his defensive alignment. The only thing he hasn't experienced is working against [the left-field] wall here. That's going to be a first in-game for him.

"But we feel like the athlete that it is, he's got a short stint of left field in his days as an amateur player. But he adapted pretty well with the footwork and precise routes while at Pawtucket.''

"I've gotten a lot of work out there,'' said Swihart, "and everything is going pretty well. I played it a lot when I was young, so (I've been trying) to get those instincts to take over again -- getting jumps on balls, and I find myself backing up bases without even thinking about it, so the instincts are taking over.''

 

Swihart spent about an hour Friday afternoon taking balls off the left-field wall, trying to get acclimated.

"I've been picking all the outfielders' brains,'' Swihart said. "Anything they can give me to work with, I'll take it.''

Farrell said the Sox still envision Swihart catching in the future, but while here, Vazquez and Hanigan will continue to handle the vast majority of work behind the plate.

"How we can keep his [catching] sharp while he's here is going to be a challenge,'' conceded Farrell. "But some of the early work (will be focused on catching) because we don't want that to be eliminated.''