The Boston Red Sox are still trying to fill out their bench as opening day quickly approaches. On Wednesday, manager John Farrell let slip that he expects versatile backup outfielder Daniel Nava to make the team.
Farrell spoke to the media regarding his lineup plans against right-handed pitching.
“Against a lefty we have options,” Farrell said. “Right-handed—that’s where Nava’s situation comes into focus… At some point, we can’t totally neglect spring training. We’re going to balance that with the long-term production they’ve had.”
Nava is a switch-hitter, but he has a much better bat from the left side (career .261 versus .191 right-handed). The 30-year-old is batting .333 this spring (12-36), and in addition to his usual corner outfield spot, he’s been getting playing time at first base as well.
Newly acquired Mike Carp, along with veterans Lyle Overbay and Ryan Sweeney are also vying for a spot on the Red Sox bench. With injuries to David Ortiz and Stephen Drew, it appears likely that two of those three will survive final cuts along with Nava.
Farrell’s comments about spring training stats counting for something also leaves open the possibility that 20-year-old rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. could make the team. The youngster has been turning heads all spring. Heading into Wednesday’s Grapefruit League game, Bradley is batting .439, having racked up 23 total bases in 41 at-bats. His OPS is a team-high 1.110.
(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)