The Boston Red Sox have very few roster spots up for grabs, so there isn’t a lot of margin for error for those competing for a job. Barring injury, the team has already established their pitching rotation and all nine members of their starting lineup. There are some nice battles brewing in the bullpen, which is the deepest it’s been in many years, with some of the younger stars pushing the veterans. Beyond that, the team knows that David Ross will be the backup catcher and Pedro Ciriaco will likely fill the utility role.
That leaves two or three spots open on the bench. One of those openings will go to an outfielder. If the Red Sox carry twelve pitchers, as manager John Farrell has hinted, that would only leave one spot. In that scenario, the final roster selection would be given to someone that can play first base and outfield—in other words, Mike Carp or Daniel Nava.
The other scenario would be if Boston decides to break camp with 11 pitchers. In this case, there would be a lot of options for the extra spot on the bench. Coming into spring training, one of those options was Drew Sutton.
When camp started, Sutton had a real opportunity to make the big league team due to his track record and experience. He’s appeared in the majors in each of the last four seasons, racking up 308 plate appearances in 128 games. He’s also had major league experience at all four infield positions and both corner outfield spots. Generally speaking, his versatility would make him a good fit as a bench player on any team. But that was before Sunday.
Sutton seriously hurt his chances to make the team in the Red Sox’ Grapefruit League game against the New York Yankees on Sunday afternoon. With closer Joel Hanrahan on the mound in the sixth inning to get work in against some of the Yankees’ starters, Sutton was playing third base. He made two crucial errors on very routine ground balls, which not only helped the Yankees get on the board, but it also allowed them to put together a three-run rally (two of the runs were unearned) to take the lead.
Sutton didn’t do himself any favors at the plate either. He went 0-2, grounding out twice—including a weak roller to first with a runner in scoring position in the ninth. He’s now batting just .200 this spring.
Although he had a promising résumé coming into camp this spring, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which Sutton can make the team after Sunday’s performance—especially considering how well Ciriaco and infielder Brock Holt are playing right now.
(JM Catellier is the author of the book Fixing Baseball, a guide to restructuring the Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter: @FixingBaseball and Facebook, and check out his site: www.fixingbaseball.com)