BOSTON — It took all of four pitches to indoctrinate Blake Swihart as a left fielder at Fenway Park.
Cleveland Indians designated hitter Carlos Santana led off Friday’s game against the Red Sox with a shot off the Green Monster in left. Swihart, starting his first major league game in the outfield, saw the ball bounce over his head on the return carom before center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. came to his rescue, firing the ball in as Santana cruised in with a double.
“Yeah, there were some nerves in the first inning,” Swihart admitted after the game, a 4-2 Red Sox loss.
Fortunately for Boston, that minor blip was the only hiccup for the 24-year-old in what was an encouraging outfield debut. Swihart recorded three putouts and added a solid play in the seventh, getting a good jump on a Mike Napoli line drive to make a nice running catch.
“He handled the three chances that he had tonight cleanly,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Swihart. “Wasn’t really tested in terms of any kind of throws, so it’s him getting acclimated to the position.”
Swihart likely will see more action in left field with Brock Holt on the seven-day disabled list with a mild concussion. But the second-year converted catcher has gotten some help from fellow outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts to help that transition go smoothly.
“They helped a lot,” Swihart said. “I didn’t really understand how many different little things go on between outs and stuff like that, so it’s been fun. They keep it fun out there.”
Let’s hit a few other notes from Red Sox-Indians:
— Jackie Bradley Jr. continued his tear at the plate, extending his hitting streak to 25 games with a solo homer in the first inning. It’s the longest hitting streak by a Red Sox hitter since David Ortiz’s 27-game streak in 2013.
“The most impressive thing is the authority in which he’s swinging the bat,” Farrell said of Bradley. “He’s driving the baseball very good. Evident by (his walk in) the last at-bat here (Friday), he’s not completely abandoning the strike zone with the aggressive nature that he’s got. He’s in a dangerous position at the plate to see the ball well, put good swings on multiple types of pitches.”
— Reliever Carson Smith underwent an MRI on Friday after heading to the 15-day disabled list with right elbow soreness. The Red Sox are hopeful the right-hander’s injury doesn’t keep him out long-term, and Farrell said before Friday’s game he’d be “surprised” if Smith ended up needing surgery.
Farrell didn’t have an update on Smith’s MRI results after the game but said the 26-year-old right-hander will get a second opinion Monday in New York from Dr. David Altchek.
— Eduardo Rodriguez went through a “very good” bullpen session Friday, per Farrell, and could make another rehab start with Triple-A Pawtucket “relatively soon.” The 23-year-old left-hander missed his previous rehab start due to right knee soreness.
— Hanley Ramirez suffered a bit of a scare in the third inning when he came up limping after beating out a ground ball at first base. The Red Sox first baseman stretched to touch first base, leaving open the possibility of a hamstring injury. But Farrell said Ramirez just experienced temporary tightness in his calf and should be fine going forward.
— The Red Sox paid tribute to some special guests before Friday’s game, honoring the team’s 2016 Hall of Fame class — which included Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, Larry Lucchino and the late Ira Flagstead — with a pre-game ceremony.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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