On a night when he got the start because of his defense, Josh Rutledge made the most of his time at the plate.
The Boston Red Sox third baseman got the start Saturday night against the Detroit Tigers because he is reliable with the glove, and Pablo Sandoval has struggled with routine plays this season.
With Chris Sale on the mound for Boston, it seemed prudent for manager John Farrell to start Rutledge after Sandoval struggled in the field behind lefty Brian Johnson on Friday night.
But while Rutledge did his job in the field during the Red Sox’s 11-3 win at Fenway Park on Saturday, he made his presence known with his bat more than his glove.
The 28-year-old infielder reached base five times against the Tigers, tallying two hits, three walks and an RBI.
If Rutledge continues to produce offensively while playing a quality defensive third base, he could see more playing time against right-handed pitchers, as he did Saturday against Justin Verlander.
Rutledge hasn’t exactly been tearing the cover off the ball, as he was hitting .250 coming into Saturday night’s game. But with the Red Sox featuring ground ball pitchers in Sale, Rick Porcello and the injured Eduardo Rodriguez, Rutledge’s defense is a valuable commodity and should earn him more playing time if Sandoval continues to struggle both at the plate and in the field.
Anything Rutledge can add offensively for Boston would be whip cream on top of the defensive sundae.
Here are more notes from Red Sox vs. Tigers.
— Red Sox reliever Carson Smith threw batting practice before Saturday’s game at Fenway Park. Smith has not pitched in a game since undergoing Tommy John surgery last season, but he is expected to start a minor-league rehab assignment soon.
— Rodriguez is progressing nicely in his return from a dislocated knee cap. Rodriguez threw from 130-140 feet Saturday and could be back on the mound soon.
“He’s made, I think, very good progress in the days since being examined by Dr. (James) Andrews,” Farrell told the media, per the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato. “We’re taking this in five-day work increments. He’s coming up on this first five days. We’ll map out increases in physical activity, agility work, all that, after tomorrow.We would hope in the coming days, he’s back on the mound here soon.”
— Pete Frates donated his glove from his playing days at Boston College and the original bucket from his Ice Bucket Challenge to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images