A non-roster invitee, Ciriaco wowed the Red Sox with his hitting, bunting and speed. While he failed to make the 25-man roster in April, the 27-year-old managed to latch on with the team in July.
With a vacancy at shortstop since the Red Sox traded away Mike Aviles, Ciriaco is vying to take the next step and win a starting job. He plans on approaching his competition against Jose Iglesias with the same mentality he took last offseason.
“I’m going to work hard this offseason to win it, but I’m also not going to put too much pressure on myself either,” Ciriaco said in a Spanish-language interview on Friday. “I’m just committed to doing my best like last year and whatever happens, happens.”
Before shifting his focus to the spring, he’ll tend to an injury first. While playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic, Ciriaco told NESN.com that he suffered a minor shoulder injury that limited him to just six games for Toros del Este.
After the Red Sox’ medical staff examined him last week, Ciriaco came away confident that he’d be healthy in time for spring training. The news bodes well for Red Sox manager John Farrell, who wants to capitalize on his versatility.
“When you consider he was a minor league free agent, he was a darn good player,” Farrell said. “He’s athletic, can do a number of things. I know there was an attempt to put him in center field, which when you look at a player with his skill set, that’s a natural thing. If he can play center field, boy, his value really starts to increase.
“Good first-step quickness, plenty of arm strength to play anywhere on the field. I don’t want to say he was a great find, but he was a heck of an addition when you consider how he came to the big leagues.”
Ciriaco hasn’t discussed his role with the Red Sox just yet with Farrell, but expressed confidence in the skipper’s decision-making. In the process, he made it a point to praise ex-manager Bobby Valentine for giving him a platform to showcase his skills last year.
“I was really appreciative of the opportunity that he gave me,” Ciriaco said. “It’s a business and we can’t dwell on [his firing], but I owe him for the opportunity.”
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