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PAWTUCKET â€“ The Pawtucket Red Sox received some much-needed outfield help Thursday. Despite putting up impressive numbers with Double-A Portland, J.C. Linares was not the player the Red Sox organization chose to promote.
Instead, Ronald Bermudez was the one summoned to Triple A. Selecting Bermudez over Linares may be viewed in some corners as a curious decision, especially when taking into account that the 27-year-old Linares is leading the Sea Dogs in hitting (.311), RBI (25), on-base percentage (.406) while ranking second among regulars in home runs (six) heading into Thursdayâ€™s action.
For comparisonâ€™s sake, Bermudez amassed a .265 batting mark with seven total extra base hits and a .291 OBP in the 28 games while he was property of Portland.
The 27-year-oldâ€™s arrival comes at a time when thereâ€™s a paucity of outfielders at PawSox manager Arnie Beyelerâ€™s disposal. Bermudez joins Alex Hassan and Josh Kroeger as the only outfielders presently listed on Pawtucketâ€™s depth chart. Lars Anderson and Nate Spears represent two additional options, yet both are infielders by trade.
Now that the Linares/Bermudez statistical breakdown has been placed on the table, along with the fact that the PawSox are limited in terms of outfield availability, it begs the question as to why Linares for the moment remains in Portland.
Reached Thursday, Red Sox farm director Ben Crockett put the move of directing Bermudez Pawtucketâ€™s way as opposed to Linares in the following context: â€śCertainly Juan Carlos has shown that he should be able to handle that jump (from Double A to Triple A) when the time comes, but at this point we want to make sure heâ€™s in a position to get a lot of everyday at-bats. Thatâ€™s our primary need and focus for Juan Carlos right now.
â€śYou need to look at the long- and short-term picture. What at-bats are available today may not be available down the road,â€ť Crockett delved further. â€śThat said, weâ€™re always looking at roster management issues as it relates to finding the best spot for every player to both get at-bats and play at an appropriate level.â€ť
Such an explanation probably sheds some light on the route the Red Sox took with Linares when deciding whether to have the Cuban native start the year in Pawtucket or Portland. Given that Linares was coming off an injury-marred 2011 campaign â€“ he appeared in just 17 games with the PawSox after tearing ligaments in his ankle in early May â€“ the powers-that-be seemed more inclined to place the outfielder at a lower level, hoping that he could produce at a clip that would pave the way into an eventual promotion.
â€śHeâ€™s done a lot of good things, but I think the most important thing is that he continues to get reps after not playing much last year due to injury,â€ť Crockett said about Linares, signed by Boston as an international free agent in July 2010.
Regarding who is wearing a PawSox uniform, Bermudezâ€™s first game on Thursday saw him play center field and bat in the No. 9 spot. He appeared in 57 games with Pawtucket in 2011, batting .261 with three homers while driving in 21 runs.
Said Beyeler about Bermudez: â€śHeâ€™s been playing great defense and getting his hits, which is kind of what he did up here last year. He came up here for a week and ended up staying two months.â€ť