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An undershirt-less Sam Travis continues to build on his spring training legend

03.06.17 at 2:33 pm ET
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Sam Travis (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Sam Travis (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Sam Travis hit a home run Monday. Ho hum.

The three-run blast against one of the best relievers in baseball a year ago, Houston’s Chris Devenski, boosted Travis’ Grapefruit League batting average to .357, having come into the the exhibition game in West Palm Beach, Fla. with a 1.333 OPS in his previous six games.

If that kind of success sounds familiar, it’s for a reason. Travis dominated in his 18 spring training games last season, finishing with a batting average of .469 with a 1.147 OPS.

What continues to impress regarding Travis is his ability to hit the ball hard, even when making outs, against lefties and righties. Devenski, for instance, only allowed a single home run to a right-handed hitter in 205 plate appearances in 2016.

And while it’s still early, and pitchers are prioritizing mechanics over making outs, it’s tough to ignore what Travis is doing.

This is the reason the Red Sox dug in on Travis when not wanting to block him from the major leagues with even a three-year contract for Edwin Encarnacion. It’s why even when he wasn’t hitting for a lot of power in the minor leagues, folks in the organization raved about what he would be.

In some corners, he was nicknamed “Captain Caveman” because, in part, he doesn’t wear batting gloves over an undershirt. When pressed on why he doesn’t wear anything under his uniform top, the 23-year-old only said, “No reason, really. That’s how I’ve always done it since I was in Little League.”

Will Travis make the Red Sox out of spring training? Not unless there’s an injury to Hanley Ramirez or Mitch Moreland. But what he continues to do is make the team’s blueprint for life beyond 2017 look pretty good. (Moreland is on a one-year deal, while Ramirez is signed through 2018 with a vesting option for 2019, having to total 1,050 plate appearances in ’17-18.)

(To read more about Dave Dombrowski’s comments on prioritizing keeping Travis, click here.)

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