Brent Lillibridge Hopes to Bring ‘Super’ to Super-Utility Role With Red Sox


Brent Lillibridge Hopes to Bring 'Super' to Super-Utility Role With Red SoxWith two on and two out in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Red Sox' newest player stepped to the plate with a chance to put the Sox back in the game.

But instead of doing some damage at the plate to impress his new team, utility man Brent Lillibridge popped out to second baseman Kelly Johnson to end the inning and the threat, keeping Boston down by a run.

As Lillibridge jogged back towards the Red Sox first base dugout, a few cheers of "Youuuuukkkk" could be heard emanating from the crowd, vocally wishing that Kevin Youkilis was still wearing red socks and Lillibridge white.

In the seventh inning, the 28-year-old would be pinch hit for by Daniel Nava — who was hit by a pitch and scored in the Sox' seventh inning three-run rally — but it was a chance for Lillibridge to get himself a bit further in to the deep end of the pool a day after coming on as a defensive replacement.

"I had some quality at-bats today, just missed one pitch," said Lillibridge after the Red Sox 5-1 victory over the Blue Jays Tuesday. "It was good to just get in there swinging"

From here on out, Lillibridge will have to occupy at least a couple unenviable roles for the Red Sox. The first are the demands of being a super utility player, the kind of piece who brings seven gloves to the ballpark and doesn't necessarily know what each day will bring.

"When [Bobby Valentine] calls my name, just being ready, being competitive, having some good at bats," said Lillibridge about the role. "The big thing is just being quality against the left-handers, and that's something I've done really well with, last year especially."

The other challenge that faces Lillibridge is acclimating to the Fenway outfield without the advantage of playing in the same spot regularly. Lillibridge says he already tapped some of his teammates for advice, and has gotten nuggets of wisdom such as that balls bounce behind you off the wall, rather than coming straight off of it. As a visitor, Lillibridge had at least one incident with a rolling ball out near the Pesky Pole and that awkward right field corner.

"In BP you kind of just get a feel for it, the space," said Lillibridge. "You run around a little bit, so you know where you're at, and where the ball's going to be. There's that big gap towards the 420, and you know the other side is going to be a lot shorter."

Wherever Lillibridge may end up in the field on a given day, the Sox certainly hope that isn't all he'll be offering. Though in three seasons prior he had never put up an OPS higher than .626, last year Lillibridge posted a mark of .845, earning 186 at-bats from the White Sox. With Nick Punto as the team's only dedicated backup infielder, Lillibridge's main value is versatility, but if he can chip in some offense it only makes the Red Sox bench that much deeper.

Of course, then Fenway outfield has a way of making even the most talented players look silly. So maybe it's a good thing that Lillibridge has already gotten some good old fashioned Boston heckling in under his belt.

Photo via Facebook/Brent Lillibridge for 2011 All Star Game

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