Bobby Dalbec got an off day in Friday’s first game of a three-game set against the New York Yankees. Dalbec, just 2 for 15 in his last four games with 10 strikeouts in 16 plate appearances, spent much of the day in the cage with hitting coaches Tim Hyers and Peter Fatse.
“He’s trying to get back some things that he was doing really well a couple of weeks ago,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “Not that we expect him to go on that type of run again. But it was really good for a while. It was really fun watching him.”
Dalbec homered six times in his first 10 games, becoming the fifth player in MLB history to do so. Nevertheless, cold spells like the one he’s in are expected from rookies.
“A lot of it is pitches that I’m swinging at,” Dalbec said. “I’m letting some good pitches go and I’m swinging at pitches outside of the zone. Once I get back to myself and find my zone up here and get on a roll and get some more experience, I’ll be more consistent.”
Dalbec started off slow, too, striking out 11 times in his first 17 plate appearances. But it was then that Dalbec met with Hyers and Fatse, and looked at video from when he was going well in college. The trio noticed Dalbec was getting “a little twisty,” in his words, which then led to adjustments and his dominant stretch.
The strikeouts will always be there for Dalbec. He’s a big-body player, 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds. It takes a while to get his swing going, which can lead to a long swing at times and getting beat on fastballs. He has a 49.6-percent whiff percentage, and has made contact on just 34 percent of pitches he’s swung at out of the strike zone.
“I’ve done it quite a bit in my career,” Dalbec said on striking out. “It used to bother me a lot more. Obviously, right now, it’s pretty frustrating the last few games, but it’s still been a fun, productive last week or so.”
Dalbec called playing in the majors a cat-and-mouse game between hitter and pitcher. For every counter, there’s another counter. A weakness to exploit. An adjustment from his days in the minors.
“These guys don’t miss very often, and I’ve got to capitalize when they do,” Dalbec said. “If they get away with one, it’s going to be tough. It’s going to be an uphill battle, so I just got to be ready and stay aggressive. I haven’t been as aggressive the last few games, and that’s kind of what happens.”
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The key to the Red Sox going forward, Roenicke believes, is that they have their core players intact for next year.
While Jackie Bradley Jr. will be a free agent, the team still will have Xander Bogaerts, Christian Vazquez, and Rafael Devers. J.D. Martinez has an opt-out at the end of the year, but it’s tough seeing a scenario where he doesn’t opt-in considering his down season (.206/.294/.371 entering Friday) and the uncertainty of the market due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eduardo Rodriguez is expected to be back, and Chris Sale will join the team at some point during the year.
For now, it’s about seeing what other role players can add depth to their roster next season.
“We’re finding some things out about these guys,” Roenicke said. “And will fill in the pieces we need and hopefully be back to being a competitive team.”
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The Red Sox acquired righthander Jacob Wallace to complete their Aug. 31 trade of Kevin Pillar to the Colorado Rockies. Wallace, from Lawrence, attended UConn and was a 2019 third-round pick. He pitched just 21 innings in short-season A ball last season, and posted a 1.29 ERA while striking out 29 . . . Darwinzon Hernandez was activated off the injured list. Hernandez originally went to the IL on Aug. 31. with an acromioclavicular joint sprain in his shoulder . . . Nick Yorke, Boston’s 2020 first rounder, was added to their player pool. The Sox selected Yorke 17th overall out of Archbishop Mitty in San Jose, Calif . . . Righthander Bryan Mata, who had been sidelined since Aug. 30 in Pawtucket due to a hamstring cramp, is scheduled for two innings in a simulated game Saturday at McCoy Stadium . . . Red Sox vice president of player development Ben Crockett said the team is planning a fall camp for minor league prospects next month in Fort Myers. The invites haven’t gone out yet. The Sox have had discussions with other teams regarding scheduling games . . . Chris Mazza will take the mound Saturday for the Sox. The Yankees will start J.A. Happ. The contest will start at 7:30 p.m. on NESN.