FORT MYERS, Fla. ?? Pedro Ciriaco is quietly displaying one of the hottest bats in spring training. In eight games ?? not counting “B” matches ?? the shortstop has batted 6-for-11 to tally a .545 batting average.
The most significant hit of them all came in Monday’s 5-3 win against the Marlins. With the game tied in the 10th inning, Ciriaco blasted a two-run, walk-off homer over JetBlue’s Green Monster to propel the Red Sox to victory.
“I was trying to be aggressive, stay balanced and put a good swing,” said Ciriaco, who was 1-for-2 in the game. “[Marlins pitcher Alejandro Ramos] threw me a good pitch to hit and fortunately I made good contact. I’m feeling great at the plate and I’m trying to keep it up.”
Ciriaco attributes his sizzling start to the repetitions he gained while playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. Over there, Ciriaco focused on squaring up better on the ball and honing his plate discipline.
“I was trying to be more consistent with my at-bats, that was big,” Ciriaco said. “When you’re consistent, you can make the routine plays better and those are the guys in the big leagues ?? the ones who don’t make spectacular plays, but the routine ones. The spectacular plays come out from that. So that’s what I tried to do be.”
His defense wasn’t too shabby in the game, either. In the ninth inning, Ciriaco fired a bullet to catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who tagged out Matt Dominguez and prevented the Marlins from eeking out two runs.
The 26-year-old has logged one of the highest inning totals in Red Sox spring training thus far. He’s done so by patrolling multiple positions, including defensive stints at second base and third base.
As a result of that versatility, Ciriaco is hoping to convince Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine that he can be an asset for the club.
“The more positions I play, the more opportunities I get to play and try to impress,” Ciriaco said. “[Valentine] can see I’m versatile and that’ll help me out in my career.”
Mission accomplished. When asked about Ciriaco after the game, Valentine acknowledged his value.
“I’m very impressed,” Valentine said. “You know, he’s stolen bases when he’s been asked to steal, he’s made the plays defensively. He’s bunted very well for base hits. He had a hit-and-run. He hits a home run to win the game. There’s nothing else that he could do to impress people.
“He had like one bad at-bat since he’s been here when he swung at a slider with a 2-2 count that was a little outside. He’s pretty good.”
In 23 games for the Pirates last season, Ciriaco batted .303 with six RBIs.