Apr 21, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox catcherRyan Hanigan
(10) at bat against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Red Sox catching situation has been in flux since before the season even started.
The Red Sox entered spring training with the formidable defensive duo of young defensive wiz Christian Vazquez and sturdy veteran Ryan Hanigan. However, their plans to start Vazquez in his first full major league season were derailed when he felt discomfort in his throwing elbow in a spring training game. That discomfort led to season-ending Tommy John surgery and forced the Red Sox to make the last-minute acquisition of Sandy Leon to serve as the team’s backup catcher.
Hanigan and Leon worked together with decent success for the first month of the season, with Hanigan providing acceptable production despite never really holding down a starting gig over a full season. But of course, their plans were sidetracked once more when a foul tip broke Hanigan’s knuckle in early May. That led to the Red Sox promoting top prospect Blake Swihart to the majors to give the talented youngster his first taste of major league ball.
Swihart didn’t quite begin his major league career in stride, slashing a meager .225/.257/.268 in May. And though he didn’t make a total turnaround in June, he hit a much-improved .258/.303/.387 and is now appearing to be a legitimate major leaguer, even hitting a downright impressive .298/.353/.383 in his last 15 games.
Hanigan’s stint on the DL is over now and he returned to the lineup last night, going 0-4 with a run scored. As of right now, the Red Sox have three catchers on their 25-man roster, but that’s not a permanent solution and they’ll have to make a decision soon on whether the correct move is to option Swihart to Pawtucket despite his progress in June, allowing him to play everyday, or designate Leon for assignment and give Swihart a slightly reduced role on the Red Sox.
Let’s explore the options!