PAWTUCKET — Brock Holt thought he had it all mapped out. With Will Middlebrooks on Boston’s 15-day disabled list, the versatile infielder anticipated that his role as the designated “fill-in guy” would encompass the next few weeks or so.
On the surface, it’s easy to see why. Holt reported to the Red Sox on Sunday following a blazing start to his season with the PawSox – 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 didn’t 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, can’t come to matching.
Logistics aside, it’s still a bitter pill for Holt to swallow.
“I got to (McCoy) on Sunday morning and that’s when they told me,” said Holt, who was available off the bench Monday night as Pawtucket kicked off a three-game set against Syracuse. “And (yesterday), I’m back here.”
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 “last one in, first one out” vibe that accompanied him on the ride to Fenway Park.
“They told me to pack up and I came here,” stated Holt, a touch of disappointment in his tone. “Any 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, it’s kind of a shot in the ribs, but what can you do?
“You think you would get an opportunity to show what you’re capable of doing. In this case, they went and signed Roberts and now I’m back down here,” 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 that’s already in the fold.
“Once I got back to (Pawtucket), I was fine. It (stinks), but it’s part of it,” expressed Holt. “Obviously you want to play any time you can, especially early in the season. I got off to a good start here, but I didn’t get any at-bats (Sunday) and not going to have any (Monday). That’s another downfall of going up and down … you lose at-bats.”
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.
“We touch base with every guy every single day, but we’ll definitely get in touch with Brock as far as what was discussed,” said Boles. “Even if it’s one day, it’s still a positive thing. We’re happy that he got the call the other day.”
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.
“There is a lot of attention on him and he understands that, but he knows how to manage the pressure,” said Boles. “He’s a guy you don’t have to worry about because he’s going to give you his best. He comes ready to play every single day.”
The Pawtucket skipper admits that when you have a promising hitter of Cecchini’s ilk, it’s easy to overlook the fact that he’s still a maturing defensive player.
“Guys have one specific skill that’s head and shoulders above the other parts. There’s nothing strange about that, but the defense will improve as will the offensive approach,” Boles pointed out. “He’s got range to both sides and has arm strength. As far as learning the position because he was a shortstop (in high school), it’s a process.”
Regarding Cecchini as a third baseman as opposed to a third baseman who can move around is something that works in the youngster’s favor.
“Focusing on one position, I think it’s beneficial for him. He understands where we’re at and what improvements need to be made,” said Boles. “He doesn’t have to worry about multiple positions so the focus can definitely be on third base.”
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03