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Ryan Lavarnway on playing first base: ‘We’re going to give it a try’

02.05.14 at 10:51 am ET
By
Ryan Lavarnway

Ryan Lavarnway

Appearing on The Bradford Files podcast, Ryan Lavarnway explained the thought process that went into having the 26-year-old catcher learn how to play first base during the Red Sox‘ upcoming spring training. To listen to the interview, click here.

“There was a conversation I had with John Farrell over the phone,” Lavarnway said. “Before this year we were always really conscious of catching needing to be the priority. I needed to improve, I needed to continue to get reps. I think that everyone in the organization was very pleased with the improvements that I made, and beyond improvements the way that I played. So now it’€™s about finding more at-bats for me, trying to get me in the lineup and that’€™s the way it was expressed to me through John.

“We’€™re going to give it a try. I’€™ve never played first base before. We’€™re going to throw it against the wall and see if it sticks. It could be great, and it could not work. We’€™re just not sure. I’€™m looking at it as an exciting new challenge, an exciting new opportunity and any way I can find to make myself more valuable to the team as a player I look at as a positive.”

Lavarnway, who is working out in the Denver area after having just been married shortly after the World Series, explained he won’€™t dive life as a first baseman until arriving at spring training.

“That was a conversation we had in the last week. I ordered a first baseman’€™s mitt immediately but I haven’€™t received it yet. The idea is to get own to spring training early, try to learn from Brian Butterfield, who is the best in the business, and go from there,’€ he said. ‘€œI’€™ve never done it before so I wouldn’€™t know where to start on my own. But Butterfield taught [Daniel] Nava how to play first base in a matter of two months last year in spring training so I figure if there is anybody who can do it, he’€™s the guy.

“I’€™m going in as a catcher first, still. I’€™m a catcher. But we’€™re going to try and add first baseman as a secondary position for me.”

Lavarnway played in 25 major league games in 2013, hitting .299 with a .758 OPS and one home run. During his time with Triple-A Pawtucket, the backstop saw action in 50 games, hitting .250 with a .696 OPS and three homers in 214 plate appearances.

The Red Sox will go into camp with veterans David Ross and A.J. Pierzynski slated as their catching combination, with Lavarnway, Dan Butler and Christian Vazquez residing next in line.

“At the end of the day how you play dictates everything in the game,” Lavarnway said. “Every opportunity that you earn or that’€™s afforded you is a direct reflection of how the way that you’€™ve played. I need to continue to improve every day the way Jason Varitek taught me he did. Even in his final season he was asking me my views and my opinions because he still thought he could learn and he could get better. That’€™s something I took serious, that he was always trying to get better even though he was considered the best in the game. I’m always going to try and get better and I’€™m never going to be satisfied.”

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