BOSTON — The bad news for the Red Sox is that catcher Ryan Hanigan will miss a large chunk of time due to a fractured right hand.
The good news is that Hanigan’s injury isn’t expected to cost him the entire season, according to Red Sox manager John Farrell.
Hanigan was placed on the 15-day disabled list before Saturday’s game against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. Catcher Blake Swihart was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to take the veteran’s place.
Hanigan is expected to undergo imaging (MRI, CT scan) and then surgery in the coming days, at which point the Red Sox will have a better read on how long the 34-year-old will be sidelined. But it’s somewhat encouraging that he’s expected to return in 2015.
Swihart and Sandy Leon will handle Boston’s catching duties in Hanigan’s absence. Farrell was noncommittal about Swihart’s long-term future or how much playing time he’ll receive in his first major league stint, but it sounds like the 23-year-old will be used early and often. Swihart received the start behind the plate and batted ninth Saturday against the Yankees.
“I don’t have an exact split on it. But Blake is a darn good prospect,” Farrell said. “He’s going to get a lot of exposure, but we’ll ease it in and out and divide the time as we feel appropriate.
“I think the most important thing is he comes up and gets his feet on the ground and learns the guys on the mound starting today.”
Hanigan was considered an above-average defender, while Swihart’s defense remains a work in progress. Swihart has tremendous offensive upside, though, so the Red Sox could have a special player on their hands if he continues to develop behind the dish in the coming months.
“Just the ability to read swings. What’s he feeling in the box? What’s he seeing as it relates to the guy on the mound and how does he apply the stuff of a given pitcher,” Farrell said of how the club will gauge Swihart’s defensive progress. “There’s a little bit of a structure in place if he has any needs on the fly, we can help that along. But for now, Blake will run the game.”
The Red Sox went from having arguably the best defensive catching tandem in baseball (Christian Vazquez and Hanigan) to facing questions at the position. It’ll be an interesting few months, though, and it also could provide a glimpse of Swihart’s potential.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images