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‘One of the best catches … that you ever see': Red Sox react to Holt’s out-of-nowhere catch

06.17.14 at 11:59 pm ET
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It would have been amazing to see Jackie Bradley Jr. make such a play. After all, when Jonny Gomes lost what appeared to be a routine fly ball to left, there appeared little time for anyone to swoop in and save the day, even a Gold Glove-caliber defender like Bradley.

But it wasn’t Bradley who offered Gomes a reprieve from what the left fielder described as “that lonely feeling for about four seconds that I had, kind of like you’re the only one out there.” Instead, it was a player who had all of two innings of baseball experience in center field who furiously closed ground, leaped and made a tumbling catch in left-center, nowhere near where Gomes was playing. (To see the play, click here.)

The degree of difficulty was extreme — not just because of the extension required at the end of the play, with the dive, but also because the first-time center fielder had to track Gomes and, when he saw that Gomes had lost it, follow both the whereabouts of his teammate to avoid a collision and track the path of the ball in flight.

How significant was the degree of difficulty?

“That might be one of the best catches — the whole sequence of what happened — that you ever see, just because of everything that’s involved in it, just to have the wherewithal to start with to even go after the ball,” said Red Sox outfield coach Arnie Beyeler. “That’s kind of a routine ball to the left fielder and then all of a sudden he doesn’t see it in the twilight. Most guys would just stand there watching the play. Infielders usually go out and get those if anybody does. That was just a great instinctual play.”

Here is a breakdown of the play from different vantage points:

BROCK HOLT

“It’€™s one of those things where you look over and you see Gomes’€™ arms out and try to do all you can, looking at him, looking at the ball, looking at him — he never picked it up. Fortunately I was able to get over there and make a play on it,” said Holt. “I ran to the wrong spot, that’€™s why I had to to do that. I thought the ball was going to be somewhere and it ended up somewhere else, that’€™s why I had to kind of dive backwards for it.”

On whether he was looking at Gomes or the ball:

‘€œWhen it goes up in the air, more at him. Once I know that he doesn’t see it, then I’€™m trying to find the ball, then I’€™m looking back at him, just in case he does find it and goes for it, I don’€™t want to just be looking at the ball and we just collide, so I was going back and forth. When I figured out he wasn’t going to pick it up, I went for it,” said Holt. “It was kind of late. I was running that way and I noticed he wasn’€™t moving and the ball was by him so I knew he probably wasn’€™t going to get to it, so that’€™s when I went for it. … I was watching it the whole time, I saw it the whole time, I was at a better angle than he was. I saw it off the bat and kept peeking at him, kept finding the ball again, so I saw it the whole way.”

JON LESTER

“To be honest, I didn’t know where the ball was. Jonny’s running in, Dirt (Stephen Drew) is running out, guys are pointing and screaming and yelling. All of a sudden, Brock just dives out of nowhere for a ball in kind of left-center, and I was looking more for a ball in dead left field. The biggest thing that impresses me is not the catch, but the wherewithal of a guy who hasn’€™t played outfield a lot, especially center field, to be backing up and moving that direction when the ball’s hit. The guy’s a smart baseball player. You could put him behind the plate right now, and he’d do a pretty good job.”

FIRST BASE AND OUTFIELD COACH ARNIE BEYELER

“He’s just been real fun to watch because he works real hard, he just takes to wherever you put him and every day he pulls a new glove out and does whatever he has to do to get ready to play that day. And in between, he kind of floats around, shags a few balls, tries to get familiar with things off the bat. That’s kind of what we talked about today. I didn’t want to waste his time just running him around. Just go and see as many balls as you can off the bat out there because you’ve never been out there before. That’s kind of what we did in left field the other day when he went there, and it was the same thing in right field other than when we hit a few balls off the wall and then we hit a few balls down the right field line, the hockey rink corner down there, to try to get him the feel of going over to the wall and how much room there is out there.

“But really, bottom line, player’s got to play. Those players have got to go out there and play and do things, and he’s shown that if you’re a baseball player, you can just play the game.”

JOHN FARRELL

“Jonny didn’€™t look like he had too much of a bead on it. Out of the corner of all of our eyes, here comes brock with a diving, sprawling catch. Thankfully he did. Particularly when [Jon Lester's] pitch count is climbing in those first three innings, an out in that moment is a key one.

“The best way to wrap it up, he’€™s a good baseball player. And I say that in general, but he understands the game. He’€™s athletic, he’€™s got speed. I think he’€™s improved his basestealing and his overall baserunning from the time we got him here. And I think more than anything, he’€™s really flourishing in the flexibility we’€™re providing for him.”

JONNY GOMES

“I’d like to call that tough love right there — just throwing Brock to the wolves right out of the gate,” Gomes joked. “I went over scenarios with him early on in the game. For one, it’s a tough twilight now with the blue sky, starting to get the sunset. From about the third inning to the fifth inning, if you look at the sky, it’s the exact same color as the ball — kind of an off-white. That being said, I told Brock, ‘Any fly ball to left field, always come over.’ The ball off the wall, I’ll try to play aggressively, and if I miss it, he’s got to be right there. Just prepping him before the game, one with the twilight, two with being my little safety net when I go up against the wall. When I caught that one right up on the wall, he was right there, too, so he did a good job tonight.”

DAVID ROSS

“I asked him the other day if he can catch because I might be out of a job. I told him, I said, ‘Man, I hope you can’t catch.’ He’s impressive. It seems like he hits more doubles off that Wall than anybody I’ve ever seen just on a regular basis in my short time here. He’s a great spark for us. He’s a great player. And we enjoy having him around.”

Read More: Brock Holt, Jonny Gomes,
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