PAWTUCKET â Brock Holt thought he had it all mapped out. With Will Middlebrooks on Bostonâs 15-day disabled list, the versatile infielder anticipated that his role as the designated âfill-in guyâ would encompass the next few weeks or so.
On the surface, itâs easy to see why. Holt reported to the Red Sox on Sunday following a blazing start to his season with the PawSox â four hits, three runs and one stolen base in three Triple-A games. The owner of a small as far as sample sizes go but still-impressive-nonetheless 1.007 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging), Holt was simply looking forward to continuing the good times with the parent club.
It didnât take long for the bloom to fall off the rose.
Holt returned to McCoy Stadium on Monday afternoon. His departure was made possible after the Red Sox signed infielder Ryan Roberts to a one-year, major-league contract. Clearly Boston was looking to go the experience route as the 33-year-old Roberts has appeared in 510 games over eight MLB seasons, totals that the untested Holt, 25, canât come to matching.
Logistics aside, itâs still a bitter pill for Holt to swallow.
âI got to (McCoy) on Sunday morning and thatâs when they told me,â said Holt, who was available off the bench Monday night as Pawtucket kicked off a three-game set against Syracuse. âAnd (yesterday), Iâm back here.â
Upon hearing that Boston was bringing aboard Roberts, Holt started to mentally prepare for the worst-case scenario. As a player with options still on the table, there was a âlast one in, first one outâ vibe that accompanied him on the ride to Fenway Park.
âThey told me to pack up and I came here,â stated Holt, a touch of disappointment in his tone. âAny time someone goes down like that and you get called up, you feel like you have a chance. When they go out and sign that guy, itâs kind of a shot in the ribs, but what can you do?
âYou think you would get an opportunity to show what youâre capable of doing. In this case, they went and signed Roberts and now Iâm back down here,â he added.
Holt is in his second season with the Red Sox organization after coming over from Pittsburgh as part of the ill-fated Joel Hanrahan exchange. The Texas native batted .258 in 83 games with Pawtucket last season and earned himself a World Series ring as a result of appearing in 26 Red Sox contests, hitting .203.
An infielder who can be shifted around the diamond, Holt logged 20 games at third base for the Red Sox in 2013, committing two errors in 41 chances. Yet with Boston staring down the barrel of not having Middlebrooks for the foreseeable future, the club decided to bring in someone from the outside rather than go with an option thatâs already in the fold.
âOnce I got back to (Pawtucket), I was fine. It (stinks), but itâs part of it,â expressed Holt. âObviously you want to play any time you can, especially early in the season. I got off to a good start here, but I didnât get any at-bats (Sunday) and not going to have any (Monday). Thatâs another downfall of going up and down âŠ you lose at-bats.â
Dealing with disappointed ballplayers who are farmed out to Triple-A represents new territory for first-year PawSox manager Kevin Boles. After meeting with the media Monday, Boles invited Holt into his office for a brief conversation.
âWe touch base with every guy every single day, but weâll definitely get in touch with Brock as far as what was discussed,â said Boles. âEven if itâs one day, itâs still a positive thing. Weâre happy that he got the call the other day.â
For the portion of Red Sox fans who believe that 22-year-old Garin Cecchini should have been handed the keys to third base after just a handful Class AAA games to his credit, Boles has a message for you.
âThere is a lot of attention on him and he understands that, but he knows how to manage the pressure,â said Boles. âHeâs a guy you donât have to worry about because heâs going to give you his best. He comes ready to play every single day.â
The Pawtucket skipper admits that when you have a promising hitter of Cecchiniâs ilk, itâs easy to overlook the fact that heâs still a maturing defensive player.
âGuys have one specific skill thatâs head and shoulders above the other parts. Thereâs nothing strange about that, but the defense will improve as will the offensive approach,â Boles pointed out. âHeâs got range to both sides and has arm strength. As far as learning the position because he was a shortstop (in high school), itâs a process.â
Regarding Cecchini as a third baseman as opposed to a third baseman who can move around is something that works in the youngsterâs favor.
âFocusing on one position, I think itâs beneficial for him. He understands where weâre at and what improvements need to be made,â said Boles. âHe doesnât have to worry about multiple positions so the focus can definitely be on third base.â
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03