BOSTON — It’s official. Brock Holt is here to stay.
Holt launched his first major league home run Saturday as part of a 2-for-5 effort in the Boston Red Sox’s 7-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. The 25-year-old has produced both offensively and defensively since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on May 17, leaving no doubt he belongs on the major league roster.
“He’s done an outstanding job on both sides of the ball since he’s come back to us,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Saturday’s win. “He’s seemingly settled into that leadoff spot and has given us some continuity in the top of the order. He and Xander (Bogaerts) have done an outstanding job in the 1-2 hole.”
Holt was recalled when Will Middlebrooks went down with a fractured finger. It was clear at that point Holt would receive a bulk of the playing time at third base, but it was hard to imagine him performing the way he has thus far.
Holt, who joined the Red Sox organization as part of the Joel Hanrahan trade before the 2013 season, spent most of last season with Pawtucket and hit just .203 (12-for-59) in 26 games at the major league level. The former ninth-round pick is hitting .305 (25-for-82) in 21 big league games this season, though, he now has six multihit games in his last 12 contests.
The offensive production has supplemented excellent glove work, which again was displayed in the second inning of Saturday’s game, when Holt made a diving, backhanded stop on a hot shot from Sean Rodriguez. The play saved a run and likely prevented Rodriguez from collecting an extra-base hit.
“Last year, I kind of put too much pressure on myself, it being my first year in the organization. I wanted to prove some things,” Holt said. “This year, I’m a little bit more confident and just going out and playing hard and playing the game like I’m capable of doing, and it’s been working so far.”
Holt had a chance to win Boston’s utility job in spring training, but the Red Sox opted to keep Jonathan Herrera because of Herrera’s experience at shortstop. With Stephen Drew set to rejoin the Red Sox, however, the need for another shortstop is lessened, as both Drew and Bogaerts are capable of playing the position. That bodes well for Holt should the Red Sox face a roster crunch.
There’s a clear understanding that the left side of the infield will be comprised mainly of Drew at shortstop and Bogaerts at third base, likely beginning Monday in Cleveland. But the Red Sox are so focused on keeping Holt around with the major league club and finding a way to get him into the lineup that they’re testing him in the outfield and at first base during early work.
Holt likely is destined for a superutility role when Drew returns. It’s the best headlock Holt has had on a major league job to this point in his young career, though, as he has made it virtually impossible for the Red Sox to consider sending him down.