Red Sox

Third base remains a position of uncertainty for Red Sox

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Third base remains a position of uncertainty for Red Sox

BALTIMORE -- With a little more than a week to go in the regular season, the Red Sox have the third-most wins of any team in either league. What they don't have is a regular third baseman.

That's somewhat strange for a team playing its best baseball of the year for the last few weeks.

This month, bullpen roles have been cemented and rest of the lineup more clearly defined.

But third remains a position of uncertainty, still up for grabs in late September.

In the first three games of their four-game series with the Orioles, the Red Sox started three different players -- Brock Holt Monday; Travis Shaw Tuesday and Aaron Hill Wednesday. With righthander Chris Tillman on the mound Thursday in the series finale, Shaw got another start.

Eight different players have started at third since the start of the season: the aforementioned three players, plus Marco Hernandez (six games); Deven Marrero (one); Yoan Moncada (four); Josh Rutledge (10) and Pablo Sandoval (one).

And yet, 152 games into the season, the position is unclaimed.

"As we get through the final 10 days, I think we've generated some momentum as a team,'' said John Farrell. "But there's also going to be opportunities for guys to generate momentum individually. Because of his flexibility on the defensive side, (Holt) could find himself there, if he's swinging the bat with some consistency. I don't want to rule out anything out at this point.''

A little over three weeks ago, the Red Sox seemed poised to hand the job to Yoan Moncada, who was promoted from Double A with the idea that he would get the majority of the playing time -- at least against righthanded pitching.

But after two multi-hit games in his first few starts, Moncada bottomed out offensively, striking out in nine straight at-bats.

Initially, Shaw responded to Moncada's arrival by enjoying a few big games on the road trip, but he has subsequently cooled and was just 1-for-8 in this series before Thursday and was hitting just .198 against lefties for the season.

Hill has generated almost no power since joining the Sox with just four extra base hits in 42 games.

"We were very candid,'' said Farrell. "That's why Moncada came here. We were looking for production at third base to continue to climb. Guys are here that have done it. It's a spot that can be grabbed. We don't ever want to hand anyone the spot just because you hit lefthanded or righthanded.''

It's hardly without precedent that a contending team lacks some clarity at a position late in a season.

"In '13,'' pointed out Farrell, "we had a left field platoon situation (between Jonny Gomes and Daniel Nava). Those roles were probably a little more defined as we got later in the season, but we want away from that late. All of our guys are recognizing that how guys perform is not only important to us but for them. And because third base has been a little more unsettled because of (a lack) of production.''

 

Ian Kinsler 'doesn’t see any form of punishment' coming for Red Sox

Ian Kinsler 'doesn’t see any form of punishment' coming for Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox are still eagerly awaiting the results of an MLB-led investigation into sign-stealing that has marred the team and league over the course of the past two months.

The allegations against the Red Sox led to the departure of manager Alex Cora amid the scandal. Meanwhile, the Houston Astros have been hit with some harsh penalties for a sign-stealing scandal of their own. They fired their manager, A.J. Hinch, and Cora was a part of his staff in 2017 when the alleged acts began.

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That said, the MLB's delays in the investigation of the Red Sox have led some to believe that the league may not find much. And in a recent interview on 1310 The Ticket in Dallas, former Red Sox second baseman, Ian Kinsler, said that the MLB wouldn't find "anything close to what's going on (in Houston)."

"I don’t know what (the league) is going to find, but in my opinion, it’s not anything close to what’s going on (in Houston), Kinsler said, as transcribed by MassLive.com's Chris Cotillo. “The Red Sox were just a very tight-knit group. When I was injected into that team in the middle of the season, it was a lot like the Rangers clubs I was on, where it was just a very tight-knit group and their system was flawless. They just had a very good system of relaying from second base to home plate. That was it. Honestly. We’ll see what happens with the commissioner’s report.”

This is the most that any Red Sox player has said about the allegations to date, and with good reason. Kinsler is retired, so he doesn't stand to lose anything by going out and saying these things.

That said, while Kinsler's depiction of the Red Sox sign-stealing is far from damning, he did acknowledge that while watching his previous at-bat on tape, he would check out the signs to see if he could crack them.

“If there’s a video and you’re going to check out your at-bat and while you’re checking out your at-bat, there’s a runner on second base also, and you look through your at-bat to see your personal flaws and what you’re trying to fix for the next time… I’m going to go back again and check out the signs and see if I can crack them,” Kinsler said. “If I can, I can. If I can’t, I can’t.”

That's somewhat of a gray area, as all MLB teams have access to this tape in-game. So, it will certainly be interesting to see what the MLB rules on this aspect of the allegations and what they may do to curb in-game video usage going forward.

But as Kinsler said, he doesn't think that the Red Sox are going to get anything more than "a small punishment," as the league won't find anything "substantial".

“I’m interested to see what happens with this whole report because I truly believe they’re not going to find anything that’s substantial,” he said. “They might throw a small punishment out there because they did a report. I don’t know. I don’t know where they stand on this whole thing. We saw where they stood on the Astros thing. I just really don’t see any form of punishment coming to the Red Sox. It was a very good team.”

Brock Holt: 'I never expected to wear any other uniform but a Red Sox uniform'

Brock Holt: 'I never expected to wear any other uniform but a Red Sox uniform'

Brock Holt has left the Boston Red Sox, but it certainly doesn't seem like he wanted to.

The super-utility player became a free agent and the Red Sox opted not to re-sign him as they looked to cut costs ahead of the 2020 season. So, Holt, who turns 32 in June, lingered for a while on the free-agent market after seven seasons with the Red Sox before ultimately agreeing to a deal with the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday.

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And in an interview after arriving at the Brewers camp in Arizona, Holt spoke about wanting to remain in Boston and never expecting to go anywhere else in his career.

"I was with Boston for so long and I honestly never expected to wear any other uniform but a Red Sox uniform," Holt said in a video captured by Scott Grodsky. "I loved it there. I loved playing at Fenway, I loved the fans, I loved the city. I was a huge part of the community so it was tough for me to come to the fact that I wasn't going back.

"But like I said, everything happens for a reason. I'm excited to be here."

Holt's former Red Sox teammate Travis Shaw, who played for the Brewers from 2017 to 2019 before signing this offseason with the Toronto Blue Jays, helped convince Holt to join the Brewers.

“[Holt] actually reached out to me about a week or two ago saying that the Brewers had some interest and that they were starting to talk,” Shaw told The Wisconsin Sports Zone radio station. “He was just asking about how the organization was and I gave him nothing but positive things.

“Brock is one of my favorite teammates that I’ve ever played with," Shaw said. "He keeps it loose in the clubhouse. Obviously he is a great player, he can play all over the diamond, but just his presence in the clubhouse and in the dugout, he keeps things loose and he keeps things fun.”

Holt was a fan favorite and a great force in the Red Sox locker room and community. He will certainly be missed by the team, and it is fair to wonder why Sox management decided not to at least try to match the one-year deal Holt got from Milwaukee. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Holt made $3.575 million with the Red Sox last season.

After all, they opened up some room under the luxury tax by trading Mookie Betts and David Price. So, why not use some of that to re-sign Holt?

Holt will now suit up for the Brewers and as he communicated to reporters, he is very much looking forward to playing at Fenway June 5-7 when the Brewers visit for an interleague series.

And he's sure to get a warm welcome when he returns.