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BOSTON (CBS) – It took Ryan Lavarnway until mid-August to make his way into the big leagues last year.
Now in 2012, he’s up a little earlier. This time though, he could be up for good.
With outfielder Daniel Nava hitting the DL on Wednesday with left wrist pain, the Red Sox recalled Lavarnway to serve as another right-handed bat in the order.
“It’s great to be back,” Lavarnway told ESPNBoston.com’s Joe McDonald Wednesday. “It doesn’t matter the situation.”
Larvanway, who hit .295 with eight home runs, 43 RBI and 50 runs scored in 83 games for the PawSox, could see some time behind the plate very soon. Backup catcher Kelly Shoppach is nursing a shin injury suffered in Tueday’s 4-1 win over Detroit, and with DH David Ortiz on the DL, Jarrod Saltalamacchia could slide into that role.
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That would clear the path for Lavarnway to don the catching equipment on a regular basis, something he did while with Pawtucket all season.
“This has been my first opportunity to catch on an everyday basis, and I’ve got to tell you, it’s a lot different than DH-ing half the time,” he said. “It’s more of a physical grind. I think I have already caught 20 more games than I have ever caught in a year, but I’ve got a great postgame routine and I’m staying in shape a lot better this season. I’m working on my flexibility and my body feels great.
Manager Bobby Valentine became a big fan of Lavarnway’s during spring training, and wanted him to make the big leagues when the season started. But although he had to wait a few months, Valentine is excited to see what Boston’s backstop of the future can do over the next 57 games.
“I loved him in spring training, and since he’s continued to make improvement,” Valentine said Wednesday. “Offensively, [Pawtucket Red Sox manager Arnie Beyeler] says he’s definitely ready and will continue to improve and we hope he continues to improve. Defensively, he’s the same but ready, and we want him to continue to improve.”
Lavarnway appeared in 17 games for Boston in 2011, hitting .231 with a pair of homers. He was the team’s starting catcher for the final two games of the season, although those outcomes are probably something he would like to forget about.
Now he’ll have a chance to show off his stuff once again in the big leagues. But this time, he likely won’t be heading back to Pawtucket after the season.