Red Sox place Carson Smith, Brock Holt on disabled list


The Boston Red Sox lost a pair of key players to injury and have called up a surprising candidate to replace one of them.

The injury bug seems to be about the only thing that can slow down the surging Boston Red Sox these days, which makes it a bit worrisome that the team shelved not one, but two players on the same day.

As expected, the Red Sox have sent reliever Carson Smith back to the disabled list, but he won’t be making the trip alone. Brock Holt will be joining him, after being placed on the 7-day concussion DL.

Smith started the year on the DL with an elbow injury, delaying his Red Sox debut until May 3. He has made three appearances this season, totaling a mere 2.2 innings. He has yet to allow a run this season, so his performance certainly hasn’t been suffering, but he has been used sparingly this month. Smith has needed at least five days of rest between appearances, as he has struggled to recover from an outing. It’s a starter’s schedule with a reliever’s workload. When he started feeling soreness in his elbow again, the team had no choice but to shut him down again.

The Red Sox entered the season with the hope that they could follow the blueprint of the reigning champion Kansas City Royals by assembling a dominant bullpen, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way, in part due to the absence of Smith. After their bullpen ranked near the bottom of the league last year, the Red Sox have risen to a respectable 5th in the American League with a collective 3.26 ERA. It’s a promising turnaround, but still falls short of elite territory, an area they’ll be hard-pressed to reach without Smith.

The Red Sox have called up Noe Ramirez from Triple-A Pawtucket to replace Smith in the bullpen. Ramirez allowed 6 earned runs over 9.1 innings (5.79 ERA) during his last stint with the Red Sox this season, so while provides the team with additional depth, he’s clearly a significant downgrade from a healthy Smith.

More from Red Sox News

As for Holt, his concussion comes as a bit of a surprise. It’s unclear exactly when the injury occurred or if he’s been attempting to play through it. You would hope he’d be smart enough not to knowingly play with a concussion, but it certainly would explain his recent struggles. The Brock Star is hitless in his last 15 at-bats and in a 2-for-24 slump that has dropped his average to .239 for the season. With the rest of the lineup clicking, Holt’s struggles have been mostly overlooked, but a week off may be just what he needs to get back on track.

In the meantime, the Red Sox have called up Blake Swihart to replace Holt on the roster. A catcher by trade, the organization has been working on transitioning Swihart to left field during his latest stint in Pawtucket. He began the year as the Opening Day catcher for the Red Sox, but the team has little use for a third catcher, so the expectation is that he’ll platoon in left field with Chris Young until Holt returns.

More from BoSox Injection

It’s a surprising, if not questionable, decision to say the least. Swihart has a mere 11 games of experience playing in left field, yet is now being thrust into the role in the big leagues with a Red Sox team battling for first place. The Red Sox already made the mistake once of rushing Swihart to the big leagues before his defensive abilities behind the dish were polished. They also made the mistake with Hanley Ramirez last year of assuming anyone can transition from the infield to playing in front of the towering wall in Fenway Park’s left field. Now they are essentially combining the two errors in judgement by pushing Swihart into this role so soon.

It leaves you to wonder exactly how the organization views Rusney Castillo at this point, as one would have assumed he would be the first to see his name called if the Red Sox were in need of an outfielder. It would be one thing if the team was desperate for Swihart’s bat in the lineup, but the Red Sox are already outscoring every team in baseball and Swihart isn’t exactly lighting it up at Triple-A.

Castillo has recovered from a slow start in Pawtucket to hit .290 so far this month, but he has been primarily a singles hitter, even as his bat has started to heat up. The native Cuban has only 6 extra-base hits all season – all doubles. Clearly the Red Sox don’t believe that production warrants a promotion, but at least we know he can handle the position defensively.

Are we sure Swihart is capable of handling the role in the field or at the plate?

Next: Red Sox at the quarter pole

Hopefully Holt won’t be sidelined for more than a week so that Swihart can go back to the minors to work on his craft. Hopefully a couple weeks of rest will be all Smith needs to recover from his ailing elbow. That’s what we hope for, but it’s a lot of wishful thinking and not enough certainty.