Red Sox

Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Blake Swihart’s strong spring seems to have the Red Sox more inclined to deal one of their natural utility infielders, such as Brock Holt or Deven Marrero, rather than Swihart, a converted catcher with high upside who's getting a look in other roles.
 
"Sounds like they’re holding Swihart to open," a rival executive said. "More likely to move a utility guy."
 
A true utility guy, that is.

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The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported Sunday that Marrero has been drawing interest from other teams.

"We do have depth with our middle infielders," Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday. "However, [I] would not get into potential trade discussions."
 
Swihart, who turns 26 on April 3, is most valuable as a catcher. But he could still be useful in a bench role for the 2018 Red Sox, and a win-now mentality may be the driving force here. (It is possible, as well, that there is nothing available via trade for Swihart that has piqued the Sox’ interest. Marrero or Holt wouldn’t require as much in return.)
 
The potential drawback is that Swihart won’t grow much if he’s not playing every day -- and in particular, if he's not catching every day. But the Sox may be be at a juncture where they feel his bat is a worthwhile experiment off the bench, at least for this season. They can figure out his future -- and their future at backstop -- later.
 
"He’s a great athlete," Cora told reporters on Sunday. "We’ve seen it in the batter’s box. It’s not only the results, but the way he’s driving the ball to left field as a left-hander, the quality of at-bats as a right-hander. [On Saturday], as a pinch-hitter, that kid was throwing 99 and he throws a breaking ball and squares a ball up."
 
Swihart entered Monday with a .283 average in Grapefruit League play, with a .905 OPS and a pair of home runs. But he does not have the infield experience that Marrero or Holt has, and the Red Sox essentially have to carry one of those two to start the year. 
 
Eduardo Nunez, the temporary replacement for Dustin Pedroia, is coming off a knee injury, and a sure-handed infielder -- Marrero’s glove is particularly good -- is a must. Rafael Devers is still coming into his own at third base. 
 
Tzu-Wei Lin is available in the minors too, and the Sox could see some redundancy with him, Holt and Marrero. Lin, unlike Marrero, has minor league options remaining. Lin also has some limited outfield experience.
 
The way the Sox roster looks now, they have two spots available for the three guys: Marrero, Holt and Swihart. Health can change that. Holt, despite being the most veteran of the group, has minor league options remaining, so he theoretically could go to Triple-A to start the season. But if the Sox don't see a role for him on this year's team any way, they'd be wiser trading him, considering he's due to make $2.225 million. It also would be the kindest choice for Holt, to let him have an opportunity elsewhere, if one exists.

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Swihart has played first base, third base and left field in addition to catching this spring. Perhaps, in time, there will be a way to work Swihart in behind the plate for the Sox. At the least, retaining him would be insurance if Christian Vazquez or Sandy Leon do not perform well offensively.
 
There was a clear personal-catcher system for the Red Sox in 2017. Leon was Chris Sale’s guy, for example. Manager Alex Cora said he is not taking that approach. As an auxiliary effect, moving away from a personal-catcher system might make it easier for Swihart to receive more time behind the plate, if called on.
 
"Whoever I feel comfortable with that day behind the plate, he'll catch," Cora told reporters in Florida. "Christian already caught him. Sandy's going to catch him today. And then the next turn, Christian's going to catch him. Everybody's going to work with everybody."

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

The Baseball Show Podcast: Red Sox head into the break flying high

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The Baseball Show Podcast: Red Sox head into the break flying high

Evan Drellich and Lou Merloni break down the week in Red Sox news and results on The Baseball Show:

1:06 - Evan and Lou discuss the unofficial first half of the season and what has gone right for the Red Sox to put them in first place with a 4.5 game lead in the division as they go into the All-Star break.

3:59 - Lou, Evan and Dan Shaughnessy play a round of over-under with the following topics: Mookie Betts' possible contract extension, Betts' MVP chances and the number of Red Sox selected to the All-Star Game.

8:52 - Evan and Lou look ahead to the second half of the season and discuss which players will improve the most.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Xander Bogaerts homers again, Red Sox beat Blue Jays 5-2

Xander Bogaerts homers again, Red Sox beat Blue Jays 5-2

BOSTON (AP) — Xander Bogaerts homered in his first at-bat a day after hitting a walk-off grand slam and drove in two runs, leading the Boston Red Sox past the Toronto Blue Jays 5-2 on Sunday to enter the All-Star break with their best record since 1949.

Brock Holt also drove in two runs for the AL East-leading Red Sox (68-30), who own the major league’s best record and have won 12 of their last 13 games.

Boston All-Star Mookie Betts went 0 for 3, lowering his major league-leading batting average to .359, and fellow-All Star J.D. Martinez enters the break with 29 homers and an MLB best 80 RBIs.

Teoscar Hernandez hit a two-run homer for the Blue Jays (43-52). Toronto’s dropped seven of 10 and fell to 3-10 against the Red Sox this season.

Brandon Workman (2-0), the first of five relievers, struck out the only batter he faced in the fifth after starter Brian Johnson was pulled with the score tied.

All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel got the final three outs for his 30th save, his eighth straight season with 30 or more. Johnson gave up two runs in 4 2/3 innings.

Jackie Bradley Jr.’s RBI double against Marcus Stroman (2-7) pushed Boston ahead 3-2 in the fifth, and he scored on Bogaerts run-scoring grounder off Stroman’s foot.

Holt’s second RBI single made it 5-2 an inning later.

Bogaerts, whose 10th-inning slam on Saturday gave Boston a 6-2 win, homered on the third pitch he saw, sending it completely out of Fenway Park over the Green Monster for his 16th of the season in the first. Holt’s RBI single made it 2-0 in the inning.

Hernandez’s shot went over the Monster in the third.

Stroman gave up four runs, three earned, on five hits in five innings.

SPECIAL TIMES

Going to the All-Star game will have special meaning for Kimbrel, who is planning to take his 8-month-old daughter and his wife, Ashley, on the trip to Washington D.C.

“Yeah, it is,” said Kimbrel of his seventh All-Star selection in the clubhouse Sunday morning. “It’s been a busy day trying to get everything ready.”

Kimbrel’s daughter, Lydia Joy, had two open-heart surgeries shortly after her birth, the second causing him to miss most of spring training.

First-timer Mitch Moreland has a different reason with his 5-year-old son, Crue.

“I think the biggest thing over the years is watching the Home Run Derby, the guys having their kids with them out on the field,” he said. “I’m looking forward to doing that with my son, my oldest, and I think he’s looking forward to that, too.”

Lefty ace Chris Sale rounds out Boston’s five All Stars.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: Placed CF Kevin Pillar on the 10-day disabled list with a sternoclavicular joint injury suffered making a diving catch and rolling over Saturday. . INF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was also placed on the 7-day concussion DL after sliding headfirst into first and colliding with Boston pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez’s leg.

Red Sox: DH Steve Pearce did some early-morning running on the field and was back in the lineup after missing two games with a bruised left shin from getting hit by a pitch on Thursday. . Rodriguez went on the 10-day DL with a sprained right ankle, opening a spot for Johnson, who was activated after a stint on the DL with left hip inflammation.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: Open their post-break schedule with the first of three at home against Baltimore on Friday.

Red Sox: Begin a three-game series in Detroit on Friday.