It’s something Boston fans probably would have scoffed at in April, but Sandy Leon might force the Red Sox to send Christian Vazquez to Triple-A Pawtucket.
The backup catcher has been swinging a hot bat since being recalled from Pawtucket on June 5 after Ryan Hanigan (neck) and Blake Swihart (ankle) both went on the 15-day disabled list. But with Hanigan already nearing his return, the Red Sox are finding themselves in a bit of a catching jam.
Not only was Leon batting .545 (12-for-22) with four doubles, four runs and four RBIS in nine games going into Sunday’s contest against the Texas Rangers, but he’s also out of minor league options. The Red Sox would have to put Leon on waivers in order to send him down, and there’s a chance he might not clear them.
In fact, the Red Sox were afraid of that happening when they put Leon on waivers last season, too.
“We don’t want to lose him,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said Saturday, per WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “He’s doing a great job. I think there were a number of us who felt like we wouldn’t see him again. He did get through and thankfully he re-signed with us even after the end of the season. And as we’re seeing now, he’s proving to be a valuable player for us.”
Vazquez is batting .212 with a .559 OPS. He has caught 38 percent of runners stealing, which is higher than Major League Baseball’s 30 percent average, but it’s a far cry from the 52 caught-stealing percentage he put up in 2014. It’s not crazy to think that Vazquez might end up being the odd man out when Hanigan returns, especially after he missed all of 2015 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
But Farrell wasn’t giving anyone any clues about what might happen.
“(Leon’s) doing an excellent job,” Farrell said, per the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato. “All things being equal, the offense certainly weighs into (the competition). At the same time, because of the attrition rate at the position, we have to be careful too from our perspective as well, from an organizational depth standpoint. You’re always, as I said the last couple of times, you’re a foul tip away from needing the next guy.”
Thumbnail photo via Gregory J. Fisher/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Jul 4, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon (3) hits a single during the second inning of the game against the Houston Astros at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports