By BRENDAN McGAIR
PAWTUCKET – Alex Hassan is listed on Boston’s 40-man roster. Such a distinction helps spell out what manager Gary DiSarcina has to do now that Hassan is back with the PawSox.
“Alex is going to get worked in. We’ve got a boatload of outfielders now, but he’s a priority. He’s a 40-man guy. He’s going to play a little first base,” said DiSarcina prior to Thursday’s game against Buffalo getting rained out. “Start him off slow – he hasn’t been playing a ton. Manage his games played early so he’s feeling comfortable and healthy. Forty-man guy … they have to play, there’s no doubt about it.”
When Hassan takes the field at McCoy Stadium, it will mark his first Triple-A game since last August. The 25-year-old Duke grad missed out on Pawtucket’s run to the Governors’ Cup due to a laceration on his left leg. During the playoffs, then-Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler noted that Hassan, “He’s probably healed up to play, but if he opened it back up, now we’re back to square one with the greater chance of infection.”
Fast forward to Opening Day 2013 in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Hassan was listed on that night’s lineup card but wound up getting scratched roughly 30 minutes prior to first pitch.
Suffering from a right calf strain, Hassan was sent down to Fort Myers in late April. He received clearance to vacate the Red Sox’ spring-training complex and begin a rehab assignment with Single-A Greenville roughly a month upon landing at Fenway South.
Hassan’s first appearance with the Drive took place May 22. His second game with the ball club didn’t come until June 4 (unlike the majors, there are no such thing as timetables when a minor-league player goes on a rehab assignment, meaning it’s not as if Hassan was on a specific timetable to return to Pawtucket).
From June 4 on, Hassan appeared in eight games for Greenville. His final game action took place Tuesday when he played in both ends of a doubleheader. The Quincy, Mass. native ended up batting .478 with 10 walks in 23 Class A at-bats.
“I didn’t have a ton of at-bats during spring training, so it was good to get at-bats (in the lower minors) to kind of get you ready for this,” said Hassan while standing in Pawtucket’s clubhouse on Thursday.
If there are any restrictions as far as DH’ing for the PawSox one day, playing the outfield the following day with a scheduled day off in between, Hassan isn’t aware.
“Going to Greenville, it was more of a controlled setting where I could get some of that stuff out of the way,” said Hassan. “It was tough going through everything, but I’m happy to be back here.”
The fact that DiSarcina mentioned that a little time at first base is on Hassan’s dance card probably has to do more with his 40-man classification than anything. Going back to spring training, it’s safe to assume the Red Sox selected Mike Carp over Lyle Overbay is because Carp is also an outfielder in addition to a first baseman. Having the ability to play two positions worked in Carp’s favor and is now something Hassan is about to take a stab at.
“It’s something that I think I can be really good at,” said Hassan when the topic switched to playing first base.
Hassan is just one of two 40-man outfielders on Pawtucket’s roster, Jackie Bradley Jr. being the other. Presently, Boston does not have a minor league member with first base experience on its 40-man roster. That problem seems to have been addressed now that Hassan is about to pick up a first baseman’s mitt.
As a reminder, Red Sox greats Bernie Carbo and Bill "Spaceman" Lee will be signing autographs at McCoy Stadium tonight for Cox Red Sox Legends Night Game. The autograph session will begin at 7:15pm at the Cox Fan Center. Call 401-724-7300 for tickets.