Ryan Lavarnway might swap his catcher’s mitt for a first baseman’s mitt this spring training.
Lavarnway will play some first base this spring, Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington recently confirmed to The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. It’s unclear how much Lavarnway will be used at first base, but it’s an interesting idea given that the 26-year-old currently is a victim of the Red Sox’ catching logjam.
It’s unlikely that Lavarnway will begin the 2014 season at the major league level, as the Red Sox signed catcher A.J. Pierzynski earlier this offseason to pair with David Ross. Meanwhile, the Red Sox have catchers Christian Vazquez and Dan Butler at the Triple-A level, which creates a bit of a dilemma in terms of finding enough playing time for everyone.
Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett said last month that the Red Sox still view Lavarnway as a catcher, although Crockett didn’t completely close the door on things changing once the club enters spring training. Trying Lavarnway at first base certainly makes sense, especially since it’s a position where the Red Sox lack organizational depth.
Perhaps the biggest question, however, is whether Lavarnway can recapture the power he showed a few years ago. Once considered one of the organization’s most promising prospects, Lavarnway has become somewhat of an afterthought following a decline in production.
Lavarnway, who hit .290 with 32 homers and 93 RBIs in 116 games split between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket in 2011, hit .250 with three homers and 24 RBIs in 50 games with the PawSox in 2013. Lavarnway hit .299 (23-for-77) with one homer and 14 RBIs in 25 major league games last season.
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