By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Red Sox Spring Training won’t end until Blake Swihart plays every position around the diamond. At least, that’s how it appears.
Boston’s quest to turn the catcher/outfielder/catcher again into an ultra-utility man will send Swihart to third base, likely on Sunday when the Red Sox take on the Pirates in Grapefruit League action. Swihart worked at second base earlier this spring and has seen game action at first base, behind the plate, in left field and at DH. So why not add another position to his resume?
If it seems like the team is trying to turn Swihart into a new Brock Holt, they are. The 25-year-old is out of options, and Boston is eager to keep his bat on the Major League roster. Swihart is swinging a big stick this spring, batting .371 (13-for-35) with seven doubles, a pair of homers and a 1.179 OPS. With Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon likely making up Boston’s depth chart at catcher to start the season, the Red Sox need to find a home for Swihart, and he’s much more enticing if that’s a mobile home that moves around the diamond.
At the moment, it’s a four-man race for two bench spots on the Boston roster, with Swihart battling with Holt, Deven Marrero and Tzu-Wei Lin. Like Swihart, Marrero is out of options, so the two cannot be sent to the minors without being placed on waivers. Given the way he’s performing at the plate this spring, Swihart probably wouldn’t go unclaimed. That means Holt and his .237 average over the last two seasons will likely be the odd-man out, with Lin starting the season in Pawtucket. Holt’s only shot is if the Red Sox decide Marrero’s glove isn’t worth a roster spot, which is a strong possibility now that John Farrell isn’t around to start him in a playoff game.
Even though his hot bat might be enough to earn him a roster spot come Opening Day, it can’t hurt Swihart to add another position to his ever-growing list of potential homes in the field (that is, unless it actually ends up hurting him, like his move to left field back in 2016). But with Dustin Pedroia starting the season on the DL and rookie Rafael Devers being handed the keys at the hot corner, the Red Sox could certainly use a Holt-like utility man — just as long as that man isn’t actually Brock Holt.