Blake Swihart To Get Time In Left Field In Triple-A, But Catching Remains Priority

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Boston Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart

Photo via Boston Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart throws to first base after a Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones strikes out during the eighth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox optioned catcher Blake Swihart to Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday, where he also will take fly balls in left field.

The Red Sox hope that will help him learn the outfield and potentially be able to play there when needed, depending on what the team’s catcher situation looks like.

“We think he has a chance to be a good catcher — an All-Star type catcher. It won’t hurt him to go down and continue to develop those skills,” Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Friday. “And with Christian (Vazquez) coming on board, we don’t think the catching time here will be enough to continue for (Swihart) to grow in that regard. So, we do want him to continue to catch.

“The second part of it is, as we look towards the future, we would like Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart to both be part of our club, and they’re both not going to be everyday catchers with our team. (Swihart) is more athletic, he’s a converted catcher, we think he can make a conversion to an another position, even on a part time basis so we can keep his bat in the lineup.

“He’s also going to learn, when we send him out, we’re going to start hitting him fly balls in left field. We think that’s more fair to do that down in Triple-A than to put him in at the big-league level here and say ‘here you go.’ He’s going to start working on that. The combination between catching — we’re not going to put him right in left field to play, we’re going to start hitting him fly balls — but we think he’ll be able to make the conversion while continuing to catch and DH. He’ll be in the lineup everyday. We think that’s more beneficial for him at this stage of his career than playing on a periodic basis here.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell said before Friday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park that Swihart wasn’t surprised by the team’s intention for him to take fly balls in left field. Farrell and Swihart actually had conversations about it during spring training.

Swihart is batting .278 (5 for 18) with one RBI in six games played this season. Sending him to Pawtucket leaves the Red Sox with Vazquez, who was called up from Triple-A on Friday, and veteran Ryan Hanigan as the catchers on their major-league roster.

Thumbnail photo via Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports Images

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