There’s been a change behind the plate.
The Boston Red Sox activated catcher Blake Swihart from the 15-day disabled list before Monday’s doubleheader against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Fellow backstop Sandy Leon, who was out of minor league options, was designated for assignment.
Swihart, who had been on the DL with a foot injury, will split time behind the dish with veteran Ryan Hanigan. Hanigan still is considered the primary catcher, but Swihart will be used more than a traditional backup, manager John Farrell told reporters Monday in Anaheim.
The Red Sox haven’t received much offense from the catching position this season, so Swihart’s return could help in that regard. Swihart, who’s hitting .241 with a homer and 11 RBIs in 40 games this season, batted .324 (12-for-37) with a .375 on-base percentage over his last 11 games before landing on the shelf.
The decision to designate Leon wasn’t easy. Leon, who was acquired from the Washington Nationals at the tail end of spring training after Christian Vazquez went down with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, has been excellent defensively, gunning down nine of 16 attempted base stealers this season. He also evolved into Clay Buchholz’s personal battery mate before the right-hander landed the DL with an elbow injury, though that situation apparently played a minimal role in the decision.
“This wasn’t predicated solely on Clay being on the disabled list, nor should you look into it as we’re finding out that Clay is going to be DL’d even longer,” Farrell said Monday. “That’s not in this at all.”
Leon hit just .180 (16-for-89) with a .438 OPS in 33 games this season. Those numbers obviously aren’t impressive, but the 26-year-old’s defensive work could prevent him from passing through waivers and lead to his departure from the organization.
Swihart entered this season as the top catching prospect in Major League Baseball. The 23-year-old also was considered the Red Sox’s top prospect, at least until they signed Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images
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