With pitchers and catchers due to report to the Red Sox Spring Training facility at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers February 12 and the full squad just three days after that, it can only mean that the hype of the Super Bowl is blessedly over and that returning players can start to ease their way into the Florida and Arizona warmth before the 162 game war of attrition begins. For a select group of players, 11 non-roster invitees, spring training means it’s already crunch time.
Non-roster invitees are the guys that define the phrase ” on the bubble”. They’ve generally been signed to a minor league contract, have a slim chance of making the club and even if so may see little playing time. The Red Sox have 11 guys trying to make a dream come true or keep it alive in 2013. Here’s a quick rundown.
Tell me you’re not ill-fated when you come to Boston as compensation for the Cub’s hiring of Theo Epstein. How does the guy win with a history like that? Carpenter was designated for assignment on January 22 to make room from Mike Napoli. The 27-year old Carpenter was 1-0 with a 9.00 (that’s not a typo) in Boston last year.
A career minor leaguer, the 26-year old righty comes to Boston’s spring training by way of the Chicago White Sox. In 2012 Carter was 4-6 with a 4.60 ERA with the International League’s White Sox affiliate Charlotte Knights.
Jose De La Torre
De La Torre began his professional career with the New York Mets in 2006. He signed with Indians as a minor league free agent before the 2012 season, after which the Indians traded De La Torre to the Sox for Brent Lillibridge during the 2012 season.De La Torre was named to the Puerto Rico National Team for the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
The 27-year old Doyle has been around. He began his professional career in the minors with the White Sox and the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the the Nippon Professional Baseball. Doyle has a mediocre fastball so primarily relies on controlling both a two and four-seam fastball as well as a curve, slider and changeup.
Boston is Villarreal’s fourth stop, having previously played for the Diamondbacks (2003-2005), Braves (2006-2007) and Astros (2008). He missed all of 2009 after having Tommy John surgery and has since signed successive minor league contracts with Phillies, Dodgers and Orioles before signing with Boston.
Diaz, 27, is another of Boston’s invitees who has clanged around trying to get to the show, only with Diaz it’s been one team since 2006 – the Blue Jays. He’s a conundrum – a guy who can get on base but has only hit.227 lifetime and has some pop (a .294 slugging percentage).
Hamilton, 28, is one of the few on the group to have actually made it to the major leagues for brief periods in 2010 and 2011. He’s had three solid seasons at the plate in the minors although last year a quad injury likely caused a precipitous falls in his average.
Sutton is hands down the most well-traveled of the bunch, having played for the Astros, Reds, Indians, Red Sox (twice), Braves, Pirates (twice) and Rays. The 29-year-old has played second base, both corner infield positions and both corner outfield positions in the past. If Sutton doesn’t make something happen this year, Boston could be his last stop.
Overbay is a bona fide major leaguer. The 36-year old is a career .270 hitter who can provide just the insurance Boston is looking for at first base. He’ll make the club.
If you’ve been paying attention to Boston baseball over the past year you know that this spring marks the return of Sweeney, who was putting together a decent season in 2012 when he lost his cool, took on a clubhouse door and in the process broke his hand, which sidelined him for the year. The 6’4″, 220 pounder is an enigma. He should be swatting home runs. Instead he’s been swatting flies most of his career. He averages two home runs per year.
Drafted by the Royals, Maier is a career .248 minor league hitter. If Overbay is the most likely to bag a spot on the Sox roster, Maier may be the least likely. Maier batted .172 (11-for-64) in 32 games with the Royals last year and possesses an anemic .248/.327/.344 slash line in the big leagues.