FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox ran out of second basemen by mid-April last season and called up Michael Chavis even though he lacked experience at the position. He handled the defensive work far better than was expected then switched over to first base when Mitch Moreland went on the injured list.
Chavis also added some pop to the offense — 29 extra-base hits and 58 RBIs in 95 games — before a shoulder injury ended his season in August.
With Jose Peraza signed to play second base, the Red Sox envision a more specific role for the 24-year-old Chavis this season. Their plan is to use Moreland and Chavis in a platoon at first base.
“When a lefthander is pitching against us it will probably be for sure Mitch’s day off. I think that’s what we’re kind of thinking now,” manager Ron Roenicke said Sunday. “We’re not planning on Mitch playing 140 games this year. So that’s one way to do it.
"Michael should be in there all the time against a lefthanded starter. And when we think Mitch needs days off — if he’s got a week in a row against righthanders — we’ll slip Michael in there somewhere.”
It should be a productive pairing. Moreland has a career .789 OPS against righthanders. Chavis hit better against righthanders (.774 OPS) than he did lefthanders (.742) last season, but the feel is he’ll hit lefties well.
Chavis also could fill in at second or third if needed and the Sox are still considering introducing him to the outfield. How much of a utility role he plays will hinge on whether Tzu-Wei Lin is on the roster.
The Sox dropped 13 players off their camp roster before the game.
Catcher Roldani Baldwin, catcher/infielder Connor Wong, infielder Jeter Downs, first baseman Josh Ockimey, righthanders R.J. Alvarez, Trevor Hildenberger, and Tanner Houck and lefthander Mike Kickham were reassigned to minor league camp. Infielder Bobby Dalbec and C.J. Chatham were optioned to Triple A Pawtucket along with lefthander Kyle Hart and righthanders Mike Shawaryn and Phillips Valdez.
Outfielder Marcus Wilson was optioned to Double A Portland and lefthander Yoan Aybar was optioned to Single A Salem.
Wong (23) and Downs (21) were two of the players acquired from the Dodgers for Mookie Betts and David Price. Both finished last season in Double A and the expectation all along was that they would return to the minors.
The Red Sox also lost righthander Hector Velazquez, who was claimed off waivers by the Orioles. The Sox now have 47 players in camp.
With Alex Verdugo sure to start the season on the injured list, J.D. Martinez is the fourth outfielder. But Lin has shown he can play center and Peraza has experience in left field. … Former Sox reliever Hideki Okajima was among the large group of Japanese media on hand to watch Kenta Maeda’s start for the Twins.
Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.