Defensive flexibility leads to Brock Holt call up over Will Middlebrooks, Xander Bogaerts
|07.31.13 at 9:40 pm ET|
By the time the media entered the Red Sox clubhouse Wednesday afternoon, all traces of Jose Iglesias — shipped to Detroit late Tuesday in a three-team deal that brought Jake Peavy to Boston from the White Sox — were gone, his old locker already filled with the belongings of his replacement, Brock Holt.
Not Will Middlebrooks. Not Xander Bogaerts. Instead, the Red Sox elected to go with Holt, the utility infielder hitting .264/.328/.293 with Triple-A Pawtucket because, well, he’s a utility infielder. When it came down to it, he was really the only option given the team’s defensive needs.
Manager John Farrell said Holt will platoon with third baseman Brandon Snyder while also serving as the backup to Stephen Drew at shortstop (and, theoretically, Dustin Pedroia at second if need be). Without Iglesias, the Red Sox’ 25-man roster did not include a backup infielder.
“Brock is here because he gives us the backup shortstop capability, and that was somewhat overriding at the moment,” Farrell said. “We’ll put the best team on the field that’s available, whoever that is. Right now it’s between Brock and Brandon.”
Neither Middlebrooks nor Bogaerts would be able to afford the Red Sox that defensive flexibility. Middlebrooks, demoted last month, has never played anywhere but third base as a professional. And while Bogaerts has found considerable offensive success in his 42 Triple-A games, including reaching in 28 straight, he is a shortstop by trade and has played in exactly five games at the hot corner and none at second.
Farrell did acknowledge, however, that both are “in the conversation.”
The organization is looking for consistency from Middlebrooks before bringing him back to the big leagues, according to Farrell, while 20-year-old Bogaerts is working on improving, particularly on his defense.
The Bogaerts-to-third experiment remains a work in progress.
“There’s comfort [with Bogaerts at third], but there’s also, in talking with [Pawtucket manager Gary DiSarcina], there’s also some things he’s working on defensively,” Farrell said. “Whether that’s at shortstop, whether it’s at third base, there’s still work that’s being done. If we were to say that he’s the guy, we know that there’s further development needed at the big leagues, which is not uncommon.”
Of course, there is nothing preventing the Red Sox from keeping Snyder. But since he is out of options, they would have to take him off the 40-man roster and therefore expose him to waiver claims, making him available to any team whose interest he may pique. The Red Sox — who value organizational depth greatly — did not want to do that.
That said, it seems likely that both Middlebrooks and Bogaerts see time in the majors before season’s end.
“But the fact is [Bogaerts is] still [not on the 40-man roster], and we wanted to preserve a spot in case anything else happened,” Farrell said. “We’re just letting the dust settle a little bit right now. That doesn’t suggest that his move or his recall or purchase of his contract is imminent. But he’s doing a very good job.
“And he’s played third of late, trying to get some exposure there. We’re just trying to cover everything that we can do in Pawtucket, if in fact he’s the guy — which right now he’s not — but that’s just normal preparation in the development.”
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