Red Sox hope newly acquired Brock Holt can add depth at third

Red Sox hope newly acquired Brock Holt can add depth at third
February 28, 2013, 7:15 pm
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BRADENTON, Fla. – While the Red Sox can breathe a sigh of relief that the scare Will Middlebrooks had with his right hand Wednesday night is not as bad as initially feared, it does underscore the team’s lack of depth at third base.

“When you get into the depth behind Will, we’re looking at more utility-type guys rather than someone who would profile at that position long term,” said manager John Farrell. “So we’re confident with the people in camp. There’s no addition or change that is being contemplated or imminent to add to that.”

When Middlebrooks left Wednesday’s game against the Orioles in the middle of his first at-bat, Pedro Ciriaco took over for him, later moving to shortstop with Ryan Dent replacing Ciriaco at third. In Thursday’s game against the Pirates, Drew Sutton started at third, later replaced by Dent.

Sutton, a non-roster invitee, has appeared in 22 major league games, including 14 starts, at third base. Ciriaco, who is on the 40-man roster and is out of options, has appeared in 37 games, making 35 starts, at third, most of that in relief when Middlebrooks’ season ended on Aug. 10 when he suffered a fractured wrist after being hit by a pitch. Dent has appeared in 14 minor league games at third. A first-round pick in 2007, he was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket for the first time last season.

The Sox would now like to add Brock Holt to the third base depth mix. Holt, who was acquired in the December trade with the Pirates that also brought closer Joel Hanrahan, made his big league debut last season, making 14 starts at second base. Holt has never played third base, though. Since being selected in the ninth round in 2009, he has played strictly second and shortstop. He began taking ground balls at third on Wednesday.

“It didn’t feel too much different,” Holt said. “So I think as long as I just get enough reps over there and during practice and stuff I think it’ll be an easy transition.”

“He’s got plenty of arm to play the position there,” Farrell said. “It’s just that any time we talk about a middle infielder going to third base it’s always the reads and the angles. And you’re that much closer to the action, to the plate, where reaction time becomes a little bit more of a necessity than the middle of the infield.”

Holt has other things the Sox like.

“The fact that he’s an infielder that’s a left-handed hitter, that can do some of the other things inside the game run, play the small game. He was very much a part of the deal not just an added person. We actively pursued to include him.

“The energy he brings. He’s not just a one-dimensional type guy…He’s got the versatility to play a number of positions.”

Holt’s primary competition for the job for now is Ciriaco.

“I think that’s probably where things stand, recognizing full well that Pedro’s out of options and he’s a very talented player,” Farrell said. “I think the more you see him play a number of positions and the things he can do on the field, he was a great find a year ago, and has made the most of his opportunity.”

Farrell has said it’s a priority for the utility infielder to also be able to play shortstop, where Sutton would fall further down on the list.

“If we’re looking at a depth chart the other guys would be ahead of him form that position solely,” he said.

As they did with Ciriaco last season, the Sox are going to also test Holt in the outfield, maximizing his versatility. Farrell said he would like to see Holt in center field.

“I’m open to it,” Holt said. “I feel like I’m a good enough athlete to be able to go to the outfield and play. So, if that’s the case, so be it. I’m excited about it.”