By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Kyle Schwarber has played more than 4,300 innings in the field in his MLB career. Zero of those innings have come at first base. That may be about to change.READ MORE: Revs Beat Orlando City 2-1, Extend Unbeaten Streak
After the Red Sox acquired the outfielder via trade with Washington on Thursday night, Alex Speier of The Boston Globe reported that the team will try him out at first base to see if he can handle it.
“According to major league sources, the Red Sox will give him a look at first, a position that might help him as he returns from his hamstring injury, while also rotating him in as an outfield corner and designated hitter,” Speier wrote.
According to Speier, “some evaluators are skeptical he can” successfully play first base.
Schwarber was placed on the IL with a hamstring strain on July 3, and he’s expected to remain out of action for at least a week. He may be out longer than that.READ MORE: Stanton's Slam Lifts Yanks To 5-3 Win, WC Tie With Red Sox
It’s understandable why the Red Sox will at least pursue this avenue. Boston ranks 13th in the AL for OPS at first base, at .648. That’s better than only the Yankees (.612) and Indians (.609). Schwarber’s .910 OPS would provide a significant and much-needed offensive boost at that spot.
The Red Sox previously tried to use Christian Arroyo at first base, for the first time of his career. But he suffered a hamstring injury of his own while making a stretch in his first game at the position, sending him back to the IL.
That being said, it’s not as if the Red Sox couldn’t use a boost in left field, which is Schwarber’s primary position. Boston ranks 10th in the AL in OPS for left fielders, at .672. That position has primarily been manned by Alex Verudgo, whose power has dipped significantly in June and July after a strong start to the season. Verdugo slashed .287/.345/.464 with an .809 OPS in April and May. Those numbers have dropped to .265/.342/.376 with a .717 OPS in June and July.
Despite the dip in power, Verdugo hasn’t been a problem, and he has positional versatility. Hunter Renfroe has hit just .197 with a .623 OPS in July, and Jarren Durant — while electric — is hitting just .147 to start his big league career. Kiké Hernandez has helped pick up some of the power need, but the Red Sox will still be able to fit Schwarber into their regular lineup, even if the first base experiment doesn’t work out.
Schwarber has played at first base before — technically speaking. He was at first base, having come in to make a five-man infield, but a wild pitch was thrown, thus allowing the winning run to score. So the appearance at first base did register, albeit with 0.0 innings played.MORE NEWS: Boston College Beats Mizzou 41-34 In OT
Outside of that, the first base experience is scarce. According to his Baseball Reference page, Schwarber played two games at first base for the Wareham Gatemen of the Cape Cod Baseball League in 2013.