It’s been a whirlwind few weeks for Boston Red Sox prospect Garin Cecchini.
Cecchini, who made his major league debut on June 1 during the first of two separate call-ups, became the latest Red Sox farmhand to tackle a new position Sunday. Cecchini started in left field for Triple-A Pawtucket, marking the first time in his professional career he started at a position other than third base.
WEEI.com’s Alex Speier notes that Cecchini, who entered Sunday with 287 career minor league games at third base, has been taking fly balls in left field in recent weeks. The 23-year-old actually played the position back in 2009 while with Team USA’s Under-18 team, which featured the likes of Manny Machado, Bryce Harper and several players who were shortstops in high school.
“I feel like I’m going to be a third baseman for a long time. That’s where I want to be,” Cecchini told Speier back in spring training. “At the same time, if (Red Sox manager) John Farrell comes up to me, (or third base coach/infield instructor) Brian Butterfield, and says, ‘Listen, we think you can get to the big leagues right now if you play wherever,’ I’m going. All I want to do is get there and help this team win.”
Cecchini called his Team USA experience — in which he won a Gold Medal — the time of his life. Obviously, a lot has changed since then, with Cecchini officially entering the major league picture, but it’s not surprising that the former fourth-round pick is willing to bounce around the diamond in an effort to increase his versatility and perhaps expedite his permanent big league arrival. Farrell has described Cecchini as a “baseball rat” on several occasions, citing the infielder’s energy and passion for the game.
Cecchini’s work in the outfield makes sense given the Red Sox’s lack of offensive production in that area. The experiment also will allow Cecchini to garner consistent at-bats at Pawtucket while third baseman Will Middlebrooks continues his rehab assignment.
It’s unclear at this point how long Middlebrooks will remain at Pawtucket, but it could be for an extended period, especially with his role on the major league roster now very much undefined with shortstop Stephen Drew back and Xander Bogaerts installed as Boston’s everyday third baseman.
Mookie Betts, who was drafted as a second baseman, has continued to learn the outfield upon being promoted from Double-A to Triple-A, and there’s a growing sentiment that he might soon earn a major league call-up if the Red Sox’s offense remains stuck in the mud. Farrell mentioned Betts unprovoked Saturday, which caused quite the stir in Oakland.
Cecchini, who entered Sunday hitting .265 with a .346 on-base percentage in 63 Triple-A games this season, certainly will make himself a more appealing major league option for 2014 if he responds favorably to tackling a new position.
Photo via Twitter/@sittingstillsox