FORT MYERS, Fla. - Catcher Christian Vazquez, sidelined with an ailing elbow, will seek a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola Wednesday, yet another signal that Vazquez is dealing with a serious injury that could require season-ending surgery.
"I don't know about the severity of it right now,'' said manager John Farrell. "We know there have been findings on it, based on the MRI, and I think anytime the elbow is talked about, you go to someone who's probably the source in our industry - and that's Dr. Andrews - to take a further look at this.''
Whether Vazquez requires Tommy John surgery - a worst-case scenario - or simply needs time to rehab, it's clear he won't be part of the Opening Day roster and the Sox need to decide, over the next week, who their No. 2 catcher will be behind starter Ryan Hanigan.
”We're focused on the internal options (Humberto Quintero and Blake Swihart), as I said yesterday,'' said John Farrell. "Both guys are going to catch (in the final week in Florida). One's on the (40-man) roster (Swihart), one's not on the roster (Quintero). There's a number of factors that will come into this.
"But setting the roster (issue) aside, you look at the way guys are handling pitchers in the moment, their game-calling, their defensive abilities. Nothing will be omitted when we talk about how we're going to start the season with the catcher in addition to Ryan Hanigan.''
Quintero has spent parts of 12 seasons in the big leagues with a half-dozen different organizations and profiles as the quintessential journeyman backup catcher. He's thought to be a good handler of pitchers and a solid catch-and-throw guy, though he offers little in the way of offense, with a lifetime .234 average and a career OPS of .594.
Swihart is regarded as the Red Sox' top position player prospect - an athletic switch-hitting catcher who has shown immense improvement behind the plate over the last two seasons.
But Swihart has played just 18 games above Double A.
"(Swihart) has looked fine,'' said Farrell. "The other day, he and Clay (Buchholz) were working through some things. That was clear. But I think as we've gotten though camp, Blake has had an opportunity to handle some of the pitchers we have here. He's worked diligently on some pitches in certain areas of the strike zone where some (improved) receiving and framing polishing could take place and that's ongoing.
"He's a good-looking player. He's very athletic. He can swing the bat. He throws very well. But we're going to take every chance and every opportunity to see things through.''
Farrell also praised Swihart's leadership skills to date.
"He's learning the pitchers, first and foremost,'' said Farrell. "I haven't seen him enough in games to determine where he would rank on a leadership scale. But he's a smart kid. He's got good retention. I think he's a very quick study. THat's what he's shown here. (Leadership is) not a detriment, I can say that.''
Swihart would rank the definite edge in terms of offense, but given that this is the backup catcher spot, that might not be a priority for the organization.
"I think it's more about leading the pitcher's at this point,'' said Farrell. "I guess the best way to describe it is, there's not going to be one thing that we hang our hat on when it comes to making this decision.
"My view is that, in our lineup, our catcher was going to hit ninth, no matter who they are. That's a sign of the strength of the rest of the lineup. Again, all of these things will be discussed and we'll come to the decision that's best for us right now.''
Another issue might be that the Sox might not want to interrupt Swihart's development by having him play just twice a week in the big leagues behind Hanigan.
But Farrell dismissed that as a factor.
"We're about winning games,'' he said. "We'll put the best team on the field.''