FORT MYERS, Fla. — Brock Holt might just be another face in the crowd when it comes to going out in public. Between the foul lines is a different story.
Holt emerged as a valuable contributor for the Boston Red Sox last season despite the club’s overall struggles. The effort has led to little recognition off the field, but it’s unreasonable to think he’ll sneak up on teams in 2015 like he did in 2014.
“I’m a pretty low-key guy, so I don’t really go out and do a whole lot of stuff,” Holt said earlier this week at JetBlue Park. “But even if I did, I could probably walk around in my uniform and people wouldn’t really know who I was. It’s not a bad thing.”
Sure, Holt — a self-proclaimed “average-looking white guy” — doesn’t have a distinct aura about him. He’s generously listed at 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, and he carries himself with such humility that it’s nearly impossible to peg him as a professional athlete unless you’re familiar with the Red Sox.
But there’s something very special about what Holt does on the field. He’s a throwback type of player with an underdog edge — kind of like teammate Dustin Pedroia — and he brings the same level of passion each day regardless of the situation. And Holt sure faced many situations last season, as the 26-year-old played every position on the diamond except for pitcher and catcher.
“I was just excited, no matter where I was at, I was just excited to play,” said Holt, who started the 2014 season at Triple-A Pawtucket before earning a major league call-up. “I love playing baseball, whatever position that might be. As long as I’m in the lineup, it doesn’t really matter.”
Holt, realizing the uncertainty that surrounds his role with the Red Sox, brought several gloves to spring training. He owns one for each infield position and one for outfield use. All might come into play again in 2015.
“To give you a certain number of games per week, I don’t know that we can go there yet. But his value increased over the course of last year because of the versatility,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said this week of Holt’s role moving forward. “There’s no hesitancy to put him in any one of those five or six positions. He’s a guy that will definitely be in the mix, in the rotation.
“I guess the best way to categorize it is you see a guy who is versatile, not just a utility guy. Is he quite a regular, everyday player? Maybe not on this roster right now. But it’s more than the guy that’s got to pick up someone on a day game after a night game.”
Holt played All-Star caliber baseball at his peak last season. He finished the year batting .281 with a .331 on-base percentage and 12 stolen bases in 106 games. His value extends well beyond the box score, though. Holt’s ability to bounce around allows the Red Sox to keep players fresh — thus potentially at their optimum performance levels — and his energy, while not quantifiable, absolutely is contagious.
“We’ve got a lot of good players in this locker room. It’s a joy to be part of it,” Holt said. “Not too many people can say they played for the Boston Red Sox, so it’s one of the best jobs in the world and we’re all lucky to be here.”
If Holt learned anything over the last year, it’s that one should expect the unexpected. While he’ll serve in a super utility role to begin the season, there’s no telling what will happen over the course of a 162-game grind. Playing time and opportunities could present themselves out of nowhere.
“I’m going to be ready to play,” Holt said. “If I’m in there, great. If not, I’ll be ready to come in later in the game and ready to go the next day.”
Maybe someone will notice Holt off the field after this season. If not, oh well. He sure has everyone’s attention the minute the first pitch is thrown.
Thumbnail photo via Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports Images