BOSTON — No one knows for sure what would have come of Sam Travis’ 2016 season had he not been hurt, but the future looked bright.
The Boston Red Sox prospect made the most of his chances in spring training, leading the team in RBI (13) and ranking among the team leaders in batting average at .469 (15-for-32).
The Red Sox sent the first baseman to Triple-A Pawtucket — to start the season at least — and he played well. Travis collected multiple hits in 16 of 47 games, hitting .272 with six home runs and 29 RBI.
A major league call-up at some point could have been in the cards, but Travis’ season came to a premature end May 29 when he tore his ACL while executing a rundown. The journey toward making his big league debut was put on hold for at least the rest of the 2016 season.
Travis was among a handful of Red Sox prospects in town for a rookie development camp this week, speaking to reporters Thursday about where he’s at in his recovery.
“Obviously, it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, but you know, that’s life,” Travis said. “Things happen. You can’t sit back and feel sorry for yourself. You’ve just gotta keep grinding day by day, and I’m ready to go.”
So far, so good. Red Sox vice president of player development Ben Crockett said Thursday that Travis is nearly able to go through a full workload, and the 23-year-old — with a knee brace on his surgically repaired left knee — was a full participant in agility drills at the end of Thursday’s workout session that was open to the media.
The next hurdle for Travis to clear will be trying to regain the approach and swing that made him such an impact player last spring.
“I think any time you have a significant injury like he did and you miss so much time, I think there’s going to be a reacclimation period or an adjustment period back to just the speed of the game both offensive and defensively,” Crockett said. “Certainly Sam did a great job both in spring training and Pawtucket when he was there, but he still needs to come back and get over the final hump of the injury. But I think he’s certainly on a very good track (to get) on the field.”
Travis doesn’t need to look far for another player — and friend — who was able to persevere in a similar situation. Chicago Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber tore his ACL in April, seemingly ending his season. Six months later, Schwarber was a World Series starter, going 7-for-17 and helping the Cubs win their first World Series in over a century.
Travis considers Schwarber a “great friend,” dating to their time as teammates at the University of Indiana, and he used the Cubs star as a resource during his recovery.
“He kind of just gave me the low and told me what it was like, that it was just kind of a grind and you’ve got to embrace it,” Travis said. “Worked out that I had someone to talk about it like himself, and it was great what he did in the World Series.”
Among the non-roster invitees to spring training, Travis is a month away from continuing his recovery efforts. Despite Travis losing the better part of a season in his development, the future still looks bright for the first base prospect.
“He was in a good place (before the injury),” Crockett added. “He showed a lot of things from a consistency standpoint that he’d done. He came up through the system with an ability to use the field. Line-drive, double, gap approach and enough power to hit the ball over the fence when a mistake was made. Certainly listening to him here, his mentality is the same, and he’s ready to go and ready to work really hard. I expect him to be in a good place pretty quickly.”
Thumbnail photo via Evan Habeeb/USA TODAY Sports Images