BOSTON (CBS) — Blake Swihart is off to a hot start this spring, but the Red Sox are going to have a tough time finding a spot for him on their roster.
The 25-year-old is out of options, so the Boston brass is in search for a suitable home around the diamond. They have Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon at catcher, so there isn’t much PT available for Swihart behind the plate. The Red Sox gave him a look in the outfield two years ago, but that experiment didn’t go so well with Swihart suffering a gruesome knee injury from running into the left field side wall at Fenway Park just 13 games into his tenure as an outfielder. That injury cost him the rest of the 2016 season, and he appeared in just six major league games in 2017.
Swihart has been getting some time at second base this spring, though he was back behind the plate for Sunday’s 7-1 win over the Orioles. He continued to impress at the plate, crushing a double and a home run out of the cleanup spot against Baltimore’s JV squad. Overall, Swihart is 3-for-5 in his first two Grapefruit League games, and he also had a triple against Northeastern last week.
He could make the team as a ultra-utility man who can snag a spot start at catcher, second or in the outfield, and the Red Sox are clearly doing all they can to get the switch-hitter in the lineup. But that will prove to be a difficult task when the regular season starts, and it could lead to a tough decision this spring.
The Boston Herald’s Steve Buckley joined Dan Roche on Sunday night’s Sports Final on WBZ-TV, and though he likes Swihart’s bat, he doesn’t want to see him playing second base for the Red Sox when games start to count.
“I understand their need and want to get his bat into the lineup and their interest in, I think, showcasing him. If there is no spot for him on this team, I would trade him,” said Buckley. “I think he’s going to be a very good major league hitter for the long term. … There is not a spot for him on this team right now and I certainly don’t want to see him at second base.”
Swihart was a shortstop in high school, but Buckley expanded that second base is one of the more difficult (and dangerous) spots on the field to learn, especially on the fly.
“The pivot, the transfer, it’s one of the most dangerous things you do in baseball,” said Buckley. “The kid has already been through a lot with the left field experiment. If he’s athletic enough so he can play [different positions] that will make him more valuable, I would just tread lightly on the second base thing.”
Swihart’s game of musical chairs continues on Monday, when he’ll DH for Boston against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton, Florida.
Watch Roche and Buckley’s full discussion in the video above, and tune in to Sports Final every Sunday night at 11:35 p.m. on WBZ-TV!