McAdam: Holt continues to show remarkable versatility

McAdam: Holt continues to show remarkable versatility
June 18, 2014, 8:00 am
(USA Today Sports Images)

It's too time-consuming to list all of the things that Brock Holt can do.

Perhaps, in the interest of brevity, we could list the things that he can't.

Any takers?

"I'm sure we'll see him with catcher's gear,'' ventured Jon Lester, "or on the mound at some point.''

Sorry, that doesn't count, Jon. Those are things he hasn't tried, not things we know definitively he cannot do.

Frankly, there seems little that Holt can't accomplish. Already this year, he has, in no particular order, gone from trade throw-in and journeyman to the Red Sox' leadoff spark.

Since moving into the leadoff spot, Holt has reached base in 24 of 26 starts and is hitting .345. In over half of his last 17 games -- nine, to be specific -- he's had multi-hit games.

He's stolen five bases in six tries and scored runs in 18 of the 26 games he's served as leadoff hitter.

But as he's demonstrated in recent weeks, offense is only part of his game.

Holt has shown a remarkable versatility this month alone, making his professional debut at four different positions and playing each one well. He's the only player in the big leagues this season to make starts at third, first, left, center and right.

Holt handled a few chances without incident in the first few innings, but really showed his talents in the third.

Brian Dozier hit what appeared to be a routine fly ball to left. But as Jonny Gomes started in, it was evident right away that he couldn't track the ball, having lost it in the twilight that was setting in.

Gomes waved his hand to signal his duress, but it seemed certain the ball was about to fall in somewhere. That is, until Holt came streaking over from center, a good 30 feet behind where Gomes was stationed, and made a diving, tumbling catch to save Gomes and the Sox.

"It seems like each game, Brock has an effect on the game going on,'' gushed starting pitcher Jon Lester. "Obviously, another new position tonight. He does a great job. You'd hardly know that he hadn't played center field. Guy's done an unbelievable job. The thing that impresses me is not the catch but the wherewithal for a guy who hasn't played the outfield a lot, especially center field, to be backing up and moving in that direction when the ball's hit. The guy's a smart baseball player.''

"It's one of those things where you look over and see Gomes's arms out,'' recalled Holt, "and try to do all you can. Looking at him, looking at the ball, looking at him...He never picked it up, so fortunately, I was able to get over there and make a play on it.''

Even Holt initially misread the ball, traveling to a spot where he thought the ball might land, only to have to change course.

"I was going back and forth,'' he said, "and when I figured out he wasn't going to pick it up, I went for it. I noticed he wasn't moving and the ball was (already) behind him, so I knew he wasn't going to get to it, so that's when I went for it.''

"He came out of nowhere,'' said Farrell. "In a way, he took over the inning because he leads off (the bottom of the inning), steals third and scores on a sacrifice fly that ends up being the difference. To his credit, he doesn't get hung up on moving to a position for the first time. He goes out and he plays, as we've seen.''

Indeed, after his intervention with Gomes, Holt's night had just begun. Coming to the plate in the bottom of the inning, he swatted a double off the Wall, stole third and trotted home on when Xander Bogaerts hit a fly ball to center.

At the plate. On the bases. In the field.

Wherever, in the field, by the way.

"The best way to wrap it up is, he's a good baseball player,'' concluded Farrell. "He understands the game. He's athletic. He's got speed. I think he's improved his baserunning and his overall speed since he got here. And I think more than anything, he's really flourishing in the flexibility we're providing for him.''