Brock Holt has become a human ping pong ball the last two seasons, bouncing all over the place for the Boston Red Sox and rarely settling into one area or stopping completely.
The epic volley continued Tuesday as Holt made a pair of excellent defensive plays at shortstop to help the Red Sox secure a 1-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
“I don’t know. Just be ready to go, whenever that might be,” Holt said after Tuesday’s victory of being able to contribute regardless of where he’s playing. “I got my feet wet last year moving around and it got me comfortable at pretty much each position, and shortstop’s something that I’ve played my whole life. So any time they put me in there, I feel pretty good about it.”
Holt’s first web gem of the series opener came in the second inning with the game still scoreless. Rene Rivera hit a sharp ground ball up the middle that look destined for center field until Holt ranged to his left to make a diving stop. The super utility man wasted no time in bouncing to his feet and firing to first, where Daniel Nava made a nice pick to complete the out and end the inning.
“He’s a good player, man,” said Red Sox starter Wade Miley, who benefited from Holt’s defensive excellence. “I’ve only been here a couple months, but what he does and to be able to play everywhere. You get the same intensity, same level every day. It’s pretty fun to watch.”
Holt wasn’t done. And in fact, his second play was even more impressive.
Asdrubal Cabrera, pinch-hitting for Allan Dykstra as the Red Sox clung to a 1-0 advantage with two outs in the seventh inning, hit a hot shot into the hole on the left side. Holt took a few steps to his right, laid out to make the stop, popped up, planted his feet and delivered a very strong throw to pull Boston to within six outs of a victory.
“The thing that really has stood out the last year or so as we’ve gotten to the left side of the infield is his arm strength,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He pops up and makes good strong throws, and we didn’t know how strong his arm was because he came to us primarily as a second baseman. Over the course of a couple of years, he’s lengthened it out, he’s gained some arm strength and it shows up tonight.”
Holt, who started in place of shortstop Xander Bogaerts, really is starting to force his way into Farrell’s lineup card, one way or another. The 26-year-old enters Wednesday having started four games in a row at four different positions (shortstop, third base, second base and center field), and, as the Red Sox have learned over the last season-plus, there’s a good chance he’ll continue to produce if he starts the next four games at four other positions.
Such is the life of a human ping pong ball. And such is the life of one of Boston’s most valuable assets.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images