Entering the spring, the Red Sox were pretty much set at every position save for the possibility of injuries. The bench, however, was not nearly as certain with David Ross being really the only sure bench player for the team. There were and still are battles for the backup middle infielder (between Pedro Ciriaco and Brock Holt), backup first base/left field (Lyle Overbay, Daniel Nava, and Mike Carp), and fourth outfielder (Daniel Nava and Ryan Sweeney). Today I’ll be checking up on each of these battles and seeing the progress that’s been made.
Backup Middle Infielder:
Pedro Ciriaco had the edge coming into this matchup simply due to the fact that he has no options and he has speed (16-19 stolen bases last season). Besides those two facts, Ciriaco and Holt are relatively similar players. Neither is spectacular defensively, but both can handle second base, shortstop, and third base, and both have shown an ability to hit for some average but little power. Holt has more plate discipline and perhaps a bit more power too, but has not hit too well this spring (.217/.280/.217) compared to Ciriaco’s .333/.318/.429 slash line. Due to the fact that he’s out of options and has simply played better this spring, Ciriaco has the edge to make the 25-man roster.
Edge: Pedro Ciriaco
Backup First Base/Corner Outfield:
This position battle was and is a bit more complex than the middle infield one, partially because there are three players involved. However, simply to make things easier, I’ll omit Nava here and move him solely to the outfield category, leaving Overbay and Carp to compete. Neither player has any options, meaning whoever doesn’t make the team will be cut and so far it’s looking like that player will be Overbay. His .158/.304/.368 slash line doesn’t compare favorably with Carp’s .250/.333/.313 especially considering that Carp is a considerably more viable option to plug into left or right field. I expect that it’ll be Carp that stays in Boston and Overbay who signs elsewhere, perhaps with Milwaukee or New York.
Edge: Mike Carp
This job is likely going to either Daniel Nava or Ryan Sweeney unless something surprising happens. Both do what’s necessary in that they can handle themselves in the field and can hit right-handed pitching, something that may be a weakness for the 2013 Red Sox. If the Red Sox are going to have a designated first base/corner outfield backup option, then that means Nava’s versatility is not a factor here. This gives Sweeney an advantage in that he can handle center field, and is a better fielder in general, and he has simply played better this spring. Sweeney has been quite solid, hitting at a .273/.407/.273 clip compared to Nava’s .200/.304/.250 slash line. Sweeney has even beaten Nava at his own game, walking at a higher rate so far this spring. Things are bound to change, but at this point of the spring, Sweeney has simply been better.
Edge: Ryan Sweeney