Christian Vazquez

Now starting at second base... Christian Vazquez? Let Alex Cora explain

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Now starting at second base... Christian Vazquez? Let Alex Cora explain

BOSTON — Christian Vazquez grew up in Puerto Rico playing pretty much every position on the diamond in the way that kids do. So how about second base?

"Third base," Vazquez acknowledged.

Well, there's a first time for everything. With weather impacting the field and necessitating the move of Dustin Pedroia from second base to DH, and with backup Eduardo Nunez unavailable to start for undisclosed reasons, Vazquez is making his big league debut at second in Monday's marathon matinee against the Orioles.

"It's fun, it's first time I'm going to start a game in the infield," Vazquez said. "Couple of injuries yesterday so I'm here. . . . I started my career in the minor leagues, my first year, two years, second year, at third base. Piece of cake."

Vazquez is one of the dominoes that resulted from left fielder Andrew Benintendi fouling a ball off his foot on Sunday. With Benintendi sore, manager Alex Cora opted to start Blake Swihart in left and Steve Pearce at DH.

The conditions gave him a second thought on Pedroia, however, and the second baseman moved to DH, with Swihart catching and Pearce going to left. That created a hole at second base. Enter Vazquez, who was signed as a catcher/third baseman and still takes daily ground balls at third.

He played nine games at third base and one at second in the minors. He has made four appearances at third base in the big leagues, and even donned a first baseman's mitt in the 18-inning World Series Game 3 last October.

"Played a little bit in the minor leagues, last year in the World Series," Vazquez said. "But it's not going to be tough. If there's a ground ball, I'm going to block it, so, I've got a cup. Don't worry."

Cora wouldn't specify if Nunez is injured, though he clarified that he's not sick, like center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who's sidelined with the flu. That said, Cora enjoyed the outside-the-box thinking that went into this lineup.

"I had plenty of fun," he said. "These are the days that you really enjoy being a manager. It's a challenge and, hey, we're ready to play.

"Where we at roster wise, and Christian has been taking groundballs at second and at short and at third. He's caught three in a row or four in a row or whatever it is. We're comfortable with him as far as making the routine play. He can turn the double play. He played first base in the World Series. That's the biggest stage in this sport. And the first play he made was a step back with the game on the line, a flip to first. He wants to do it, he likes to do it, and we're going with him."

Added Vazquez, when asked how he responded to the news that he'd be donning a second-base mitt: "I said, 'OK, I'm in. Let's go.'"

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Red Sox likely to trade a catcher before regular season, per Alex Cora

Red Sox likely to trade a catcher before regular season, per Alex Cora

The Boston Red Sox are blessed with a problem that many major league teams would like to have. And that's an abundance of catching depth.

Christian Vazquez. Sandy Leon. Blake Swihart. All three can start. The question is whether or not the Red Sox can afford to keep all three of them on the roster. Last year, the answer to that question was yes. This year, it appears to be, no.

According to Alex Speier of The Boston Globe, Alex Cora has acknowledged that the Red Sox are unlikely to keep all three on the team. Here's what Cora said about the situation, per Speier.

“We know all three are good. It doesn’t matter which probably two we take,” said Cora. “Honestly, it’s not about what they cannot do. We know the three guys. We know what they bring to the table. Last year, we had three and we felt comfortable with it. This year is a different year. Most likely it’s going to be two and we’re going to feel comfortable with it. I don’t think one is better than the other one. They all have their strengths. We know what they can do. It doesn’t matter. Time will let us know what we’re going to do.”

While Cora's comments essentially confirm that the Red Sox will be moving on from one of their major league catchers, it's still unclear which option they will choose. Cora said that the Red Sox like all their skill sets, so it may be about which catcher potential trade partners find to be most appealing.

Though a move doesn't appear to be imminent, a potential trade partner has emerged. The Kansas City Royals lost Salvador Perez to Tommy John surgery and he will miss the entire 2019 season. With him out, the Royals could be interested in acquiring one of the Red Sox's catchers to hold down the fort until he returns. At this point, they remain the trade partner to watch.

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Royals C Salvador Perez reportedly out for season; opportunity for Sox to find trading partner for catcher?

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Royals C Salvador Perez reportedly out for season; opportunity for Sox to find trading partner for catcher?

Reports out of Kansas City are now saying that Royals catcher Salvador Perez is likely going to need Tommy John surgert to repair a UCL in his right elbow, putting him on the shelf until next season before this one has even started.

So what does that mean for Boston? Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski has been transparent about his desire to have just two catchers on the Major League roster for Opening Day, and Christian Vazquez is the odds-on favorite to start behind the dish. That leaves Blake Swihart, whose agent requested a trade last season, and Sandy Leon, who hit just .177 last season, as potential trade candidates. 

The Royals' depth after Perez, meanwhile, is lagging. The two catchers behind Perez in camp, Cam Gallagher and Meibrys Vitoria, have a combined 59 career at bats to their name. 2017 second-round pick M.J. Melendez, the No. 6 ranked prospect in the Royals' system by Baseball America, is the presumed long-term solution at catcher. But he's only gotten as far as Class-A in his second year as a pro.

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