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Red Sox notes: Christian Vazquez intent on making roster decision tough one 03.14.16 at 10:15 am ET
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Christian Vazquez (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Christian Vazquez is working his way back after missing last season following elbow surgery. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The presumption is that the Red Sox will have Christian Vazquez start the 2016 in Triple-A.

Maybe we should take another look at that narrative. Vazquez certainly thinks so.

While the catcher has been somewhat eased through spring training after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last March, Vazquez sees no reason why he shouldn’t be viewed as a healthy major leaguer when Opening Day rolls around in three weeks.

“I feel good. In these last three weeks I want to show them I’m back,” said Vazquez, who gets the start Monday with Joe Kelly on the mound for the Red Sox. “I’m here. I’m here to help my pitchers, to help my team. We’ll see what happens.

“That’s my goal, to show them I’m healthy and I’m 100 percent so I can play nine innings.”

The fly in the ointment is the overflow of catchers on the major league club right now, with Blake Swihart currently being designated as the starter with Ryan Hanigan serving as the backup.

Things can change, as we were reminded when Swihart was driven from Sunday’s game after being hit in the mask with a foul ball. (Swihart was deemed good to go Monday.) But, so far, the only thing that hasn’t gone as planned might be Vazquez’s advanced progression to date.

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Blake Swihart leaves game after foul ball to mask 03.13.16 at 2:39 pm ET
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Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — This is why March 13 roster projections can be tricky business.

The Red Sox’ catching situation became a bit more unpredictable Sunday, as the projected Opening Day starter, Blake Swihart, was forced to leave the game against the Rays with two outs in the third inning.

Swihart exited after take a foul ball off the bat of Tampa Bay hitter Patrick Leonard off of the catcher’s mask. The impact point appeared to be in proximity of the backstop’s mouth area.

It was announced later that Swihart had suffered a contusion to his jaw, and there were no signs of a concussion.

“He got his bell rung, obviously,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “We’ll check him tomorrow, obviously monitor him day to day. At this point no further test unless things don’t clear up. Again with contusion, we’ll monitor day to day.”

After conducting what appeared to concussion protocol with the Red Sox’ medical staff, and Farrell, Swihart was removed from the game, being replaced by Ali Solis.

Swihart walked and struck out in his only two at-bats.

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Blake Swihart details why he thinks he will be better than last year 03.08.16 at 10:48 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — All eyes will be on Christian Vazquez Tuesday as he catches his first spring training game since Tommy John surgery. That’s fair. Vazquez’s spot on the Red Sox will continue to be one of the more intriguing storylines throughout March.

But, as we sit here, the starting catcher for the Red Sox is still Blake Swihart. Perhaps it’s important to take stock of what the team has in the guy who very likely will be teaming up with David Price on Opening Day.

Swihart’s major league clock started well before anybody anticipated last season, exposing him to the reality of the position in sometimes uncomfortable fashion.

But now, the 23-year-old has seemingly transformed into a significantly more advanced backstop than what we witnessed throughout 2015.

“Right now everything catching-wise is pretty much better than it was last year,” he said. “My blocking is on time, my footwork is good, my throwing to second base, I’ve had one guy steal and I threw the heck of it to second. Everything feels really good. Not everything was on time and put together right. But now it is.”

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Lost wallets, cell phones and golf carts: Welcome to spring training home of Travis Shaw, Mookie Betts, Deven Marrero, Blake Swihart 02.17.16 at 8:34 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Four players, one house.

It’s not the norm, but it does add for some interesting stories in what can be an otherwise seven months of spring training.

It’s an endeavor Travis Shaw, Blake Swihart, Mookie Betts and Deven Marrero have undertaken, choosing to live together.

“We’re normally pretty responsible for the most part, but this first week has been pretty tough,” said Shaw when appearing on the Bradfo Show podcast. “We’re down three cell phones and a golf cart. A camera might have been a good idea. … Our house is fun.”

Some of the questions that were cleared up by Shaw and Betts when appearing on the Bradfo Show were …

– Marrero has the worst room.
– Swihart found the house.
– Swihart is also “the pain” in the house, mostly because of his competitive nature in video game playing.
– Betts stays up the latest. Shaw goes to sleep first.
– Betts has lost two phones already, one due to his golf cart going in a pond, and the other because Swihart threw a football at the outfielder while he was texting in the hot tub.
– Betts is the cook of the house.

“That path we’re on, the house might not be there by the end of spring training,” Shaw said.

The ultimate prediction: they will get their security deposit back, although, as Betts said, “it will be close.”

TRAVIS SHAW, MOOKIE BETTS JOIN BRADFO SHOW PODCAST

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Red Sox pregame notes: Blake Swihart reaching comfort level behind plate, on offense 09.06.15 at 1:50 pm ET
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Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart has played just 67 games at the major league level, but in that time, interim manager Torey Lovullo said the catcher has shown an “incredible knowledge and confidence, which is uncanny for a kid of his age to walk up there and have the success the way he’s having.”

“He is extremely intelligent,” Lovullo said. “He’s got a great feel for how to read swings. He gets the initial game plan, combines that with how his pitcher’s working on the mound and then makes those adjustments based on what he’s seen in front of him from each and every approach.”

Swihart also knows what many young players at his position might not, and that’s how important it is to be involved with his battery mate. On Saturday afternoon, he caught and called Wide Miley’s complete game, working with the lefty the whole way through.

“[He is] extremely engaged in between innings, and he is all about sitting next to his pitcher and talking it over,” Lovullo said. “And I think those are things that young catchers don’t understand, how important that is to that starting pitcher on that day, and he was made to understand that that’s part of his job, to take care of his pitcher.”

The 23-year-old also is years ahead of himself offensively, according to Lovullo, who said he and the team knew it and put it on the back burner. Swihart is slashing .288/.337/.393 with 16 doubles, one triple, two home runs, 25 RBIs, 16 walks and four stolen bases this season.

“You’re seeing it come out now,” Lovullo said.

The key is that Swihart knows “who he is and what type of hitter he is,” which is a prime example of that knowledge and confidence.

“He’s not walking up there trying to slug the ball over the fence,” Lovullo said. “Staying with his approach, understanding game plans and how he’s being attacked.”

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Red Sox pregame notes: Clay Buchholz yet to begin throwing program, rest of year uncertain 08.21.15 at 5:12 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz hasn't pitched since July 10. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz hasn’t pitched since July 10. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz last pitched in a game July 10 and hasn’t been able to throw since.

“Clay has not [begun a throwing program],” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “Right now Clay is kind of in a no-throw situation. He feels good enough to throw, but we are evaluating him daily to see where he’s at. I know he’s had an opinion where he can start to throw, but we’re not going to rush anything that he’s not ready to do.”

Lovullo was then asked if the right-hander would pitch again this season. He would not say yes or no.

“We haven’t determined that,” he said. “We’re trying to figure this out moving forward.”

In 18 starts this season, Buchholz is 7-7 with a 3.26 ERA. Over his last five starts that he was able to make, he allowed just one earned run in each of them.

Brock Holt is out of the lineup for a second straight day, but it doesn’t appear to be serious and Lovullo said he would be available off the bench, if needed.

“He’s just a little banged up,” Lovullo said. “He just needed another day. I decided to give him another day — I decided to give him another day to get caught up. I know I’ve been talking a lot the last couple days about these guys getting tired and fatigue and instead of staying with it we wanted to get a little bit ahead of it.”

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Red Sox lineup: Blake Swihart behind plate, Alejandro De Aza in right field in series finale vs. Tigers 07.26.15 at 6:21 pm ET
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Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart

After struggling to catch knuckleballer Steven Wright behind the plate on Saturday, Blake Swihart is back behind the plate Sunday night in the series finale against the Tigers as he will catch Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez.

Alejandro De Aza will start in right field for a second straight day as the Red Sox will face Tigers right-hander Shane Greene.

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:

Mookie Betts, CF
Brock Holt, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, DH
Hanley Ramirez, LF
Alejandro De Aza, RF
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Mike Napoli, 1B
Blake Swihart, C
Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP

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Blake Swihart takes blame for passed balls: ‘Next time I’ll do a better job with it’ 07.25.15 at 8:27 pm ET
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Blake Swihart allowed four passed balls in Saturday's loss.  (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Blake Swihart allowed four passed balls in Saturday’s loss. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Catching knuckleballs isn’t an easy thing to do.

Even some of the best catchers ever to play the game simply can’t do it (i.e. Jason Varitek) and while Blake Swihart had no major issues leading into Saturday’s start, things didn’t go well this particular day.

Swihart allowed four passed balls in 4 1/3 innings with Steven Wright on the mound, leading to two unearned runs and ultimately a 5-1 Red Sox loss to the Tigers.

“It was just one of those days I guess,” Swihart said. “I’ve done a pretty good job I thought beforehand in his last starts and this one just got me.”

“There’s been times I’ve missed a lot but they’ve never gone back to the backstop,” he added. “I might drop them and they’ll go off to the right a little bit or right in front of me. I’ve gotten hit in the mask twice not even getting the glove on the ball when he’s throwing it. That’s what comes with the knuckleball. Next time I’ll do a better job with it.”

After leading off the second inning with a walk, J.D. Martinez advanced to second base on a passed ball and was able to score on a James McCann fielder’s choice for the first unearned run. Then in the fourth, with runners on first and second, Swihart allowed another passed ball, allowing the runners to move up a base. It came back to hurt when both runners scored on a Nick Castellanos ground rule double. If not for the passed ball, Martinez would have been at first and forced to stop at third.

Wright said the knuckleball was moving the most it had all season.

Even though that may be a good thing against hitters, it’s not for his catcher. Wright went 4 1/3 innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits, while walking two and striking out four. Manager John Farrell admitted afterwards Swihart’s troubles was part of the reason for taking Wright out after just 74 pitches.

“I thought it was moving a lot more than it has all year,” Wright said. “It’s a good problem to have but it can be a problem, and today with the passed balls it’s just the fact that it was moving too much it makes it hard to catch. That’s part of the knuckleball. Sometimes it works good and sometimes it moves too much where it makes it tough. But today we were able to grind out and get to the fifth inning and the bullpen was able to come in and finish the game.”

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Closing Time: Rough day from mound as Red Sox fall to Tigers, 5-1 at 7:02 pm ET
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Steven Wright allowed four runs (two earned) in 4 1/3 innings in Saturday's loss to the Tigers. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Steven Wright allowed four runs (two earned) in 4 1/3 innings in Saturday’s loss to the Tigers. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Time and time again manager John Farrell speaks of the team’s success starting from the mound and after one of the best starts in quite some time Friday from Rick Porcello, things returned to the norm Saturday.

Red Sox starter Steven Wright dug the team a 4-0 hole and the offense couldn’t come close to picking up the slack as the Sox fell to the Tigers 5-1 Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park. It was their 10th loss in the last 12 games.

The dependable Wright had his second-to-worst start of the season, allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits, while walking two and striking out four in just 4 1/3 innings. The biggest issue was he couldn’t control his knuckleball, leading to four passed balls for catcher Blake Swihart.

Wright allowed a solo home run to Yoenis Cespedes in the first inning, which gave the Tigers a quick 1-0 lead followed by another run in the second and adding two more in the fourth.

“I thought he had some decent violence to the pitch,” Farrell said of Wright. “Then there were a few that he left up in the strike zone, particularly to Cespedes and [Jose] Iglesias for two of the extra base hits. Where Blake has handled him relatively cleanly in his previous starts, he had difficulty with receiving him clean today, which allowed [runners] to advance 90 feet on a couple of occasions. Felt like where we were in the order in the fifth inning, needed to try and get a ground ball double play and Ramirez gets out of the inning with no further damage, but probably not as consistent of a knuckleball we’ve seen from Steven previously.”

The Red Sox offense couldn’t do much against Tigers starter Alfredo Simon, as the right-hander went 6+ innings, allowing one run on seven hits before leaving with an injury during the first at-bat of the seventh inning. It was his first quality start in seven starts.

Mookie Betts got the Red Sox on the board with an RBI groundout in the fifth inning, scoring Swihart, who had tripled.

Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:

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Red Sox activate Blake Swihart, Sandy Leon designated for assignment 07.20.15 at 2:50 pm ET
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Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart

ANAHEIM — The Red Sox have a familiar player back on their roster.

Catcher Blake Swihart (foot) was activated from the disabled list Monday and in turn catcher Sandy Leon was designated for assignment.

Swihart was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left foot on July 3 and after four rehab games he’s back with the major league club. In 40 games this season, the switch-hitting catcher is batting .241.

Leon, who the Red Sox traded for at the end of spring training coming from the Nationals, was designated for assignment after playing in 33 games this season. He batted just .180 and was the personal catcher for Clay Buchholz, but with Ryan Hanigan already on the roster, the team has no need for three catchers.

For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.

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