BOSTON — Kyle Schwarber’s entrance for the Boston Red Sox did not come without a delay.

The Red Sox acquired the 2016 World Series champion from the Washington Nationals at the 2021 trade deadline. He didn’t debut until nearly two weeks later after returning from a hamstring injury. It’s not often to see an impact player get dealt with an injury, though the Red Sox had faith he would produce once he took the field.

“He was amazing for the group,” Boston manager Alex Cora told reporters on Tuesday. “It was a weird day when we traded for him in Tampa. … When healthy, he was going to contribute.”

At the time, the Red Sox were competing for first place in a talented American League East with a competitive group in the clubhouse. That sold Schwarber from the second he arrived.

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“Who’s not going to be excited when you get traded over to a team in first place at the time?” Schwarber said on Tuesday at Fenway Park. “You know what you’re pushing for. You’re pushing for a World Series. You get injected into a lineup that was already filled with stars. It was a heck of a time to be there and a lot of fun. I enjoyed my time.”

Two areas stood out about the slugger to Cora when he arrived: attitude and availability. Schwarber sparked confidence in hitters’ meetings right when he joined the team, even before suiting up himself. Schwarber did not get fully healthy during his Red Sox tenure. Nevertheless, he knew what was at stake for his new ballclub.

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“When I was traded over, I was kind of close to getting off the injured list,” Schwarber said on Tuesday. “I had a little setback. I felt like I was able to keep up to speed, being able to swing and things like that. It didn’t feel terrible at all. I tried to dodge a rehab assignment just so I could get out there and play.”

“He cares about posting,” Cora explained. “He wasn’t 100%. I can tell you that throughout the playoffs. … He did everything possible to be out there. He brought a different vibe to the clubhouse.”

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Schwarber won a championship with the Chicago Cubs and still played primarily as an outfielder before joining the Red Sox. The outfield was pretty set at the time with Alex Verdugo, Kiké Hernández and Hunter Renfroe. J.D. Martinez filled the designated hitter spot when healthy, so that role was filled as well.

Where did that leave Schwarber when the Red Sox were at full strength?

First base, the position he had not played professionally and has still played just nine regular season games at during his 10-year MLB career.

“That was an experience,” Schwarber shared with a laugh. “That was an experience for sure. I was like, ‘Sure, I’ll play first base.’ I hadn’t played it ever since high school. No better place to figure it out when you’re reaching to get into the playoffs. It was definitely an experience. I had fun with it. I knew I wasn’t gonna be some Gold Glover over there. Just tried to catch the ball and make the plays I could and try not to get in your own head about it. Make fun of yourself every once in a while, right?”

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Schwarber definitely had fun with it, tipping his cap to the Fenway Park crowd after a 3-1 putout during the 2021 American League Division Series. That came after an error on an earlier chance, so Schwarber made sure to make it count when he redeemed himself with Nathan Eovaldi on the mound.

The now-Philadelphia Phillies slugger texted his old manager that he should catch Tuesday night after his first base days at Fenway Park, Cora shared.

Ultimately, Schwarber’s bat was what the Red Sox coveted. Once the Red Sox got into the dance in October, he stepped up to show his worth in front of an energized Boston crowd.

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“Every place you go to has a unique aspect of their fan base when they’re in the playoffs and how you feed off the energy,” Schwarber explained. “Chicago’s unique. (Boston’s) unique. Philadelphia’s unique.”

The Red Sox eliminated the New York Yankees in the 2021 American League Wild Card Game, an experience Schwarber shared was “a fun thing within itself.” Boston then upset the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS before pushing the Houston Astros to six games in the American League Championship Series.

“It felt like we had a really good chance to pull this off,” Schwarber remembered. “The fan base was behind us. They kind of attached themselves to us at that time. It was the underdog story where before I showed up, nobody picked the team to do anything. They were in first place.”

Schwarber homered in each of the three playoff levels, powering Fenway Park with a trio of impact long balls.

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While the Red Sox ultimately fell short of a title, Schwarber enjoyed his time in Boston.

“I enjoyed hitting here,” Schwarber added. “I enjoyed the aesthetics. I enjoyed the history. Fan base was great. I’m excited to get back out and hopefully have some good crowds while we’re out here. I know some Philly fans will probably be traveling, too. Hopefully, we’ll have a pretty good environment for the next three games.”

Schwarber returns to town as the Philadelphia Phillies bring the best record in the National League to Fenway Park as the Red Sox start consecutive tests before the New York Yankees visit this weekend.

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Featured image via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images