Bobby Dalbec knew something was up with his swing. He was seeing the ball well, but was just missing it. That’s when he called in Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers and assistant hitting coach Peter Fatse to review some video of his swings from college.
“Dalbec is a guy that’s always working,” Hyers said Sunday. “He’s a big guy. He has long limbs and a longer swing, and you have to make sure it’s compact, and being on time, I think, is the hardest thing for big guys to navigate. He showed us a couple of swings back in college and some things he possibly got away from.”
In Dalbec’s first five games with the Red Sox, he struck out 11 times in 19 plate appearances. His two hits came in his debut against the Braves Aug. 30, when he homered and singled.
In two games since reviewing his swing with Hyers and Fatse, Dalbec is 3 for 8 with two homers. He is the fourth Red Sox player in history with three homers in his first seven career games.
“I was kind of getting stuck on my backside,” Dalbec said. “I was a little twisty, but I think I got it ironed out now.”
This isn’t to suggest Dalbec has this totally figured out. The strikeouts will follow him, at times, just because of his size. He has struck out 14 times in just 28 plate appearances. He has just two hits that aren’t homers (though it’s a small sample size).
But what it does confirm is the level of maturity and self-awareness on Dalbec’s behalf, something the organization has raved about as he developed in the minors.
“I don’t think it’s a surprise to people in this organization,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said by phone Monday. “You look at the progress he’s made as a professional coming into our organization out of college and he has shown significant progress, closing up holes in his swing and getting his strikeouts under control and getting to that amazing power that he has.
“I don’t think that happens without someone willing to be reflective.”
Dalbec had a 37.4 percent strikeout rate in 2017 when he was in Single A. Two years later, that rate was just below 25 percent in both Double A and Triple A. So perhaps he does figure it out at the big league level. He has the mental fortitude and shrewdness to do so.
“He’s just a guy who is really thoughtful about his craft,” Bloom said. “And he’s thoughtful about the work he puts in. We’re seeing that at the big league level. He’s also had some games where he’s really struggled. That’s to be expected.”
The Sox have three weeks left in the season. They are last in the division at 14-28, and a playoff berth is extremely unlikely. This gives them a chance to give Dalbec reps to figure it out.
“That’s one of the main reasons we wanted him up here,” Bloom said. “Obviously, he earned it, but those reps make you better. Those reps create points to work on. Experience is what you grow from.”
The road ahead
The Red Sox, who have two off-days this week, are 8-10 in their last 18 games. They will have a doubleheader Tuesday in Philadelphia against the Phillies, who are 20-17 and in second place in the National League East. The Red Sox then travel to Florida to play the Rays for a four-game set starting Thursday, followed by a two-game series against the Marlins … Nate Eovaldi (right calf strain) is expected to come off the IL for either the Rays or Marlins series. He will throw a bullpen during the team’s off-day Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park … The Red Sox bullpen entered Monday with the most innings thrown in baseball at 202. The Rays were second with 187⅓ … The Red Sox have just six home games remaining.
Julian McWilliams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack.