WORCESTER — Red Sox manager Alex Cora hinted how Bobby Dalbec was aware of Boston’s roster makeup prior to arriving at spring training.
And while Dalbec said Wednesday it wasn’t a conversation he had with Cora or the Red Sox, the fact he served as a utility infielder in Fort Myers, Fla., along with the arrival of Yu Chang, eliminated the element of surprise when Dalbec was optioned to Triple-A Worcester.
“Honestly, I anticipated it more so than I have in the past just the way the roster was designed coming into spring,” Dalbec told NESN.com during Worcester’s media day at Polar Park. “So it wasn’t too much of a letdown, honestly. Like, yeah, it sucks. I’m not gonna say it feels good or I was excited to get sent down. But it’s part of the game. It just is what it is. I’m not one to be bitter or anything like that I’m just going to keep playing hard and have fun.”
Chang was signed to a major league deal and, unlike Dalbec, does not have minor league options. Chang, who impressed during the World Baseball Classic, would have been subject to waivers if not retained in Boston.
“It’s kind of one of those unspoken things like this is part of the game,” Dalbec said. “And Chang is a great player and looks different this spring so they want to have him instead of me. It is what it is.”
Dalbec will open the season with Worcester on Friday at 4 p.m. ET and you can watch it live on NESN.
The 27-year-old Dalbec played 18 spring training games while batting .235 with a .304 on-base percentage and .813 OPS. He finished with a pair of home runs and six RBIs while scoring 11 runs. Dalbec also walked five times in those 56 plate appearances with 21 strikeouts, pleased by the number of times he reached base.
“Went really well,” Dalbec said of his spring, admitting he started to lose his legs on the backend of the Grapefruit League campaign. “I spent this whole offseason with the mindset of trying to raise my floor.
“And I felt like putting up like .800 OPS with not feeling that good shows with the work in the offseason I was pushing my floor up,” he continued. “So I feel like I accomplished that so far. Just got to keep building on it.”
Dalbec, who played a combined 250 games in Boston the last two seasons, impressed Cora with his defensive versatility in Fort Myers. He expects to play more shortstop in Worcester, along with his two corner infield positions and understands the utility aspect is something the Red Sox are looking for, though he doesn’t see that in his long term.
“I think it’s just pretty simple,” Dalbec said about his improvements. “Keep playing good defense, keep playing hard and be aggressive in all aspects of the game.”
The Red Sox will host Opening Day at Fenway Park on Thursday. You can watch the game on NESN with first pitch set for 2:10 p.m. ET after an hour of pregame coverage.