Red Sox: Blake Swihart is getting more comfortable behind the plate

Feb 20, 2016; Lee County, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart (23) works out at Jet Blue Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 20, 2016; Lee County, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart (23) works out at Jet Blue Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart is ready to take his starting catching job back after a disappointing 2016 season.

The Boston Red Sox are off and running as Spring Training games have officially begun. As the games are going by, manager John Farrell has some decisions to make with who will be starting catcher on Opening Day.

For the most part, if there are no major injuries, the starting infield and outfield seem to be set. But the one competition Farrell is keeping his eye on is behind the plate.

As of right now, the Red Sox have catchers Blake Swihart, Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez fighting for the starting position come Opening Day.

A year ago, Swihart was in the same competition and ended up winning the job to become the Opening Day catcher in 2016.

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The catching roles quickly changed though due to the fact that Swihart was simply struggling behind the plate. Balls were going by him constantly which put his team in a position to lose multiple ball games. When his defensive struggles continued, Swihart was sent down to AAA.

This was when the emergence of Sandy Leon came alive and the starting position was basically his for the rest of the season.

Swihart later returned to the Major Leagues in 2016, but as an outfielder. After showing some comfort roaming the outfield, he eventually injured his ankle. The injury ended up sidelining him for the rest of the season.

Fast forward to today where Leon is being looked at as the favorite for winning the starting catching competition due to his success last season.

As we all know, Swihart is returning as a catcher and has made some great progress in his preferred position. writer Corey Long spoke with manager John Farrell about Swihart’s progression as a catcher.

"“The priority for any catcher is defense,” Farrell said. “He’s been able to focus on that in the early drills. There’s been some minor adjustment with his setup behind the plate, and it’s paid immediate dividends.”"

Long also spoke with Swihart and asked him how he felt about being back behind the plate.

"“I feel really good back there, I’m getting more and more comfortable every day,” Swihart said. “I just need to keep working in the bullpen, keep doing my drill work and take it in to the game.”"

If you were to compare Blake Swihart in 2016 to Blake Swihart today, he would seem like a completely different player. He has more confidence behind the plate which is something you need as Major League catcher.

If you watched Blake Swihart last season, you could tell that he seemed afraid to lead the club which eventually lead to pitchers not having confidence in the pitches he was calling.

In the end, even if Blake Swihart does not win the role as the Opening Day catcher, it is great to see that he is progressing well and eliminating the flaws he had a year ago.

Next: Red Sox: Four Gulf Coast League pitching prospects to watch

You never know, there could be a big injury to the person ahead of him on the depth chart and his journey in being an everyday Major League catcher would continue.