By Eddie Pannone
PAWTUCKET, R.I. – Change is not always the easiest thing for someone to buy into, especially when that person is a professional baseball player. However, the Pawtucket Red Sox know change could be their calling card to Boston. From night to night, manager Kevin Boles shakes up his lineup by putting players at positions where they have minimal experience.
“I come to the ballpark, check the lineup out and wherever I’m at, that’s the glove I use that day,” PawSox slugger Travis Shaw said.
He is one of many players who are trying to gain position flexibility. Shaw, a natural first baseman, has played more than half his games at third base this season and recently added left field to his list of positions played.
“I like it,” he explained. “For me versatility is always good because you never know where you will be needed. If you play three different spots, then that’s three different opportunities if someone goes down in Boston.” This versatility allowed Shaw to be promoted to the Red Sox on May 8, as he made his MLB debut against the Blue Jays.
This doesn’t get lost on other players in the clubhouse. Deven Marrero, who has the potential to be a gold glove shortstop, has moved around to third base and second base for the first time in his pro career.
“Obviously we love him as a shortstop,” Boles said, “but to gain him some versatility I think will be beneficial to him. He’s done well wherever we ask him to play and shows pretty good game awareness.”
Garin Cecchini, who moved around last year as well, has played third base, left field and recently added first base to his repertoire. Allen Craig played first base, left field and right field in his MLB career and has done so in limited time with the PawSox. The list goes on and on, as almost everyone on the roster can play multiple spots.
So how has Boles and his staff got their players to buy into this day-to-day change?
“I think it speaks for itself as far as the major league club,” he said. “Obviously we have a terrific example in Brock Holt and we always point to that. He’s the ultimate example of versatility and how much it is needed.”
Seeing multiple success stories has allowed the team to embrace change and be ready whenever they get their chance to play in the big leagues.
“As long as you’re playing in the big leagues, you want to make sure you have answers and are ready,” Boles said. “The tone is set by John Farrell and the major league staff as far as versatility and the importance of it. We all understand that.”