Boston Red Sox pitchers and catchers were scheduled to report to Spring Training by this past Wednesday at the latest, but Jorge Alfaro was not among them.
The veteran catcher, who the Red Sox signed to a minor league contract this offseason, got to camp Sunday due to a visa delay, per MassLive’s Christopher Smith.
Now, he’ll have to hit the ground running as there is a lot at stake for Alfaro in the coming weeks.
The 29-year-old is expected to battle it out with Reese McGuire and Connor Wong for a coveted spot on the Opening Day roster. Alfaro’s contract also is heavily tied to supplanting either McGuire or Wong as making the cut for the Red Sox out of Spring Training will give him a reported $2 million salary with opt-outs available at the beginning of June and July.
“He’s got to catch up now,” manager Alex Cora told reporters, as transcribed by Smith. “He’s a week behind. And there’s a lot of work defensively that he needs. And Tek (catching instructor Jason Varitek) is on top of that. He had a good winter. He did a lot of good things for Licey (of the Dominican Winter League) offensively. But defensively, there’s a few things that we recognize that he needs to start doing. We’ll see where we’re at.”
Alfaro’s defense certainly is a work in progress, and that might be putting it mildly. He led the National League in passed balls in three out of the last five seasons.
Alfaro has played exclusively in the NL over the course of his seven seasons in the majors. He suited up in 82 games for the San Diego Padres last season, batting .246 with seven home runs and 40 RBIs. Alfaro is far from a contact hitter, having struck out 566 times in 1,542 career at-bats.
He will need to make a good first impression on Cora, and do so quickly as well since Alfaro is scheduled to play for Columbia in the World Baseball Classic.