After tearing up the league since his Red Sox debut on July 7 against the Yankees – a splashy four-hit, four RBI affair in which he also scored two runs and stole a base in a 9-5 Sox win – many fans immediately asked, “Who is this guy Pedro Ciriaco?” OK, so that game, the back end of a day/night double header, wasn’t technically Ciriaco’s debut. He had played second base in the afternoon game and gone 0-4 but who’s quibbling? Certainly not the Red Sox.
The point is, over the next 8 days the 26-year old batted .625, flashed some serious leather and made both fans and the media sit up and take notice of his speed. Ciriaco is the only Red Sox player ever to have three hits and a steal in three consecutive games. His impact begs two obvious questions; Is he a fluke or a fanboy dream? Where did he come from?
After being signed by the Diamondbacks in 2003, Ciriaco worked his way through their minor league system over the next six years and was enjoying a solid start to his 2010 season when he and teammate Chris Snyder were traded to the Pittsburg Pirates. On arrival, he was assigned to the Pirates’ triple A Indianapolis Indians minor league team. He was a late season call up for the Pirates in 2010, hitting an RBI double in his major league debut while batting .500 (3 for 6).
The Red Sox signed Ciriaco to a minor league contract in January after the Pirates non-tendered him at the conclusion of the 2011 season. In case anyone has forgotten – and it’s a good bet many have – Ciriaco was a non-roster invitee to Boston’s spring training camp.
He made the most of his opportunity, leading the team in batting average (.412), runs (14), hits (18), stolen bases (8) and games played (28) while collecting a .444 on-base percentage and a slugging percentage of .651. After all that another important question needs to be asked. How did the guy not start the season with the Sox?
If he remains productive a number of good things happen for Boston.
- Ciriaco’s presence obviates the need for Boston to go looking for another utility infielder. He can play both shortstop and second base, a real insurance policy given Dustin Pedroia‘s precarious 2012 situation. During his minor league career he even played some outfield. Keeping him with the big club would allow management to focus on a quality starting pitcher as the trade deadline nears.
- With the return of Jacoby Ellsbury, the two give the Sox a much needed 1-2 punch in the speed department.
- He has both a good stick and a good glove.
- He’s young and healthy.
- He’s not Carl Crawford.