PAWTUCKET – Bobby Dalbec was back playing third base, his more familiar position, for the PawSox on Thursday.
Why is this news bulletin worthy? Any time a Red Sox prospect – someone who’s the envy of the folks at Baseball America – finds himself playing a different position than the one he’s predominantly lined up at during the balance of his minor-league career, inquiring minds want to know.
Dalbec has been in Triple-A for nearly two weeks. He’s made six starts at first base. To put that in perspective, he saw time in 12 games at first in the 353 minor-league games he appeared in prior to joining the PawSox.
“It’s more about learning that feel of being over there,” said Dalbec after Pawtucket’s 8-2 loss to Norfolk on Thursday. “There’s more footwork first as opposed to third, so it’s about getting more comfortable.”
Judging by the increased workload at first, it seems someone within the Red Sox organization is enamored with the idea of moving Dalbec across the diamond.
Or you can look at it from this vantage point: Boston potentially has a first baseman on their roster who can slide over to third base.
Either way, it would appear the Red Sox are comfortable with the progress that Rafael Devers has made as a third baseman. That means that Dalbec must explore avenues, hence why he’s received an extended look at first.
“I think being versatile is a good way to get there,” said Dalbec. “I just think they want me to be as versatile as I can. That’s where my focus is, but you always need reps regardless of your position.”
Judging pop ups at McCoy Stadium’s expansive foul territory is never easy, yet Dalbec has looked like a seasoned pro in the few chances he’s had.
“There’s a big learning curve that he has to make because he hasn’t played there a lot,” said PawSox manager Billy McMillon. “He’s got to get comfortable, but there haven’t been any head-scratching blunders or anything like that. With his athleticism, I anticipate that he’ll be able to make the adjustment and it will start to look more natural.
“He’s got to think about things in a different way, but the more he does it, the better he’s going to be. I think it will be a really good club for him to have in his bag,” McMillon added. “He looks like he’s in control out there. He’s just got to get more experience.”
EXTRA BASES: PawSox starter Josh Smith was tagged for seven runs on 12 hits as the Tides completed a three-game sweep of Pawtucket. Despite the loss, the Pawtucket bullpen pitched very well, striking out nine batters while allowing one run in six innings. Tanner Houck (two innings, five strikeouts), Jenrry Mejia (two innings, two strikeouts), and Ryan Brasier (one inning, two strikeouts) did their part after Smith left the game. … The PawSox begin a three-game series with the Toledo Mud Hens Friday night at McCoy at 7:05 p.m. Left-hander Kyle Hart (8-5, 3.93 ERA) is scheduled to start for Pawtucket. … Friday’s giveaway will feature a Red Sox World Series championship replica ring giveaway for the first 3,000 fans in attendance.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03