When the Red Sox decided to recall infielder Brock Holt from Pawtucket and designate Ryan Roberts for assignment, they did so hoping the move would spark some production from the bottom third of the lineup.
Roberts struggled was filling in at third base for Will Middlebrooks (calf strain), producing just two hits in 19 at-bats.
Meanwhile, the 25-year-old Holt was riding a hot start — .380/.446/.600 — in his first 12 games with the Triple A club.
In Friday’s 8-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park, Holt helped jump-start the Sox’ offense in the fourth inning, grounding a single into center field to score Mike Carp to make it 4-1.
Holt, who finished 2 for 4, came to the plate hungry to deliver after striking out in his first at-bat with the bases loaded in the second inning and the Red Sox trailing, 1-0.
“That was a bummer, that first at-bat,” Holt said. “I’ve got to put the ball in play, get that guy home from third, but I left him on. It felt good to come through with that second at-bat.
“I came in pretty comfortable today and we’ll come back and do it again tomorrow.”
In the eighth inning, Holt led off with a grounder to second baseman Steve Lombardozzi and appeared to beat the throw to first.
First base umpire Mark Carlson called Holt out and John Farrell came out to dispute the call. The play was reviewed and overturned.
“I felt my foot hit the bag before I heard the ball hit glove,” Holt said. “So I’m glad John came out and they reviewed it. It’s a big play to get the leadoff guy on and maybe get something going there.”
Holt also proved sharp defensively. In the top of the eighth, he dived to his left to snag a hard grounder from Nelson Cruz and popped up to make a strong throw to get him at first.
Farrell was happy with Holt’s first start of the season.
“He played well. I thought he played very good, defensively,” Farrell said. “I thought he put up some very good at-bats, including the line out to right [in the sixth inning] against [Brian] Matusz. He did what we hoped he would, and that’s give us a spark in the bottom third of that order.”
Before coming to Boston, Holt had hit safely in each of his last four games with the PawSox, going 6 for 20 (.300) with 3 doubles, 2 RBIs, a walk, 3 runs, and a stolen base.
“I’m feeling really comfortable in the box,” Holt said. “I was down there, so hopefully I can carry that up here as well.”
Before Roberts was designated, he was hitless in his first four games, had a two-hit game against the Yankees Sunday, and then went 0 for 8 in three games against Chicago. Before Friday’s loss, Farrell said he hoped Roberts would clear waivers and stay with the organization.
“[Roberts] had about a nine-day layoff from the end of spring training until he joined us,” Farrell said. “As we talked to him today, he’s got to go through the waiver process here, but we’d certainly like him to remain in the organization. We feel like he needs at-bats to get things going a bit.”
Holt was also called up April 6 but did not see any action and returned to Pawtucket the next day when the Red Sox signed Roberts. He played 26 games with the Red Sox last season, hitting .203.
“He’s earned the promotion here,” Farrell said before Friday’s loss. “When he was sent out, even after one day with the big-league club, he was initially disappointed, but has channeled that in the right way and played very well on the left side of the infield.”
For Holt, it was a chaotic day until game time. The PawSox were in Rochester for a doubleheader and didn’t get back to Pawtucket until 3 a.m. Friday morning.
Holt didn’t find out he was recalled until approximately 2 p.m. and had to scramble to get to Boston, making it to Fenway just a couple of hours before first pitch.
Better late than never.