BOSTON (CBS) –Red Sox rookie Ryan Lavarnway expected to be up in the big leagues with the September call-ups, but got the call early after Kevin Youkilis went down with a back injury.

“I tried to keep my head out of the roster here. I didn’t want to get ahead of myself too much,” the 24-year old rookie said before making his major league debut. “I’m just coming in with an open mind, trying to learn something every day.”

As the team’s DH in their 4-3 win against the Royals Thursday night, Lavarnway went 0-for-4 as the Sox’ seven-hitter. But the prospect will get his chance to see if he can produce in the big leagues.

“We can hopefully use his bat,” said manager Terry Francona. “He is a tremendous hitter, especially for power.”

Lavarnway was drafted in the sixth round in the 2008 draft. The catching prospect split time between Double-A and Triple-A this season, crushing 30 home runs and driving in 85 runs. He hit a combined .293 over 110 games.

“The biggest thing has been staying disciplined,” he said of his time in the minors. “When I’m hot, not starting to swing at the wrong pitches.”

Now he transitions to major league pitching, but the game remains the same.

“It’s the same game; they have to throw the ball over the plate and I have to hit it between the lines,” he told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Jonny Miller on Thursday.

The Yale product, who hit .467 his sophomore year, has worked hard behind the plate but will likely spend his time as a DH while with the Sox. He is still a little raw as a backstop, but has made strides to improve his game; both in the minors and during the spring.

“I learned a ton in spring training, working with the guys and (catchers coach Gary) Tuck,” he said. “I take a lot of pride in catching.”

And for now, DHing is just fine for the California native.

“I just want to be in the lineup; however I can help the team win,” said Lavarnway.


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