Has Ryan Lavarnway Missed His Chance with the Boston Red Sox?

By Jonathan Cullen
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In a word? Yes.

Two years ago, former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona was reaching for rookie Ryan Lavarnway during the last two games of the regular season to help right the sinking ship. It was a tough position to put the young catcher in, but he played well given the circumstances.

Since then, Lavarnway has struggled to get his foothold in at the major league level, failing to capitalize on the faint momentum from the 2011 season.

With the news today that the Red Sox optioned Lavarnway to Triple-A, it is fair to wonder if he will ever get another shot with Boston after hitting .136 this spring.

Last year, Lavarnway was given every opportunity to put himself into the mix for the starting catcher’s job during the last two months of the season. Any sign of the player who had hit .286 in five seasons at the minor league level would have been enough for the Red Sox to steer clear of bringing in a veteran like David Ross.

Instead, Lavarnway hit .157 in 153 at-bats and the Red Sox signed Ross. It is really hard to overlook that type of number, especially on the heels of his .231 average in limited at-bats during the 2011 season. Boston made the decision to bring in a veteran to compete with Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Lavarnway was back in limbo. Too good for Triple-A, not good enough for the majors. For a catcher who will be 26 by the end of this season, he had been given two looks and hadn’t quite taken advantage of the situation.

The future looks unsettled for Lavarnway at this point. Young receiver Christian Vazquez was the most impressive catcher in camp and looks like he might come through the system fast.

Given the fact that the Red Sox now feature a former pitcher in John Farrell as their manager, it wouldn’t be surprising if he were to place a premium on defense behind the plate, making Vazquez the clear choice in the future if that is the case.

Lavarnway will likely get the bulk of the at-bats for Pawtucket and be pushed by Dan Butler. If the Red Sox were to suffer an injury this year, Lavarnway would get the call and another shot with Boston.

More likely, Lavarnway will be included in a trade this season once the Red Sox get a chance to identify their needs a couple of months into the season.

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