FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox record for home runs by a rookie is 34 by Walt Dropo in 1950. The rookie record for strikeouts is 152 by George Scott in 1966.
Look out history, here comes Bobby Dalbec.
Dalbec still has rookie status after being called up late last season and appearing in 23 games. But they were certainly eventful games as Dalbec homered eight times in 80 at-bats and struck out 39 times.
Three of his home runs traveled at least 408 feet, including a 449-foot blast off Atlanta’s Tucker Davidson on Sept. 26.
Dalbec, 25, is slated to be the starting first baseman and the Red Sox are prepared to live with the strikeouts if his power is there. His righthanded swing is perfect for Fenway Park and this transition season is a good time to see how it plays over time.
A full season could be loaded with thrills — and plenty of slow walks back to the dugout after punching out.
Like many players his age, Dalbec doesn’t see any shame in striking out.
“You’re only as good as the pitches you swing at. I’m not too worried about it,” Dalbec said after finishing up Thursday’s workout. “To me, an out is an out. Obviously, there are certain situations you have to put the ball in play and I feel like I can do that most of the time I need to.
“But if there’s nobody on, I’m not trying to not strike out. I’m trying to do some damage and get on at least second base. That’s how I’ve gotten better and better.”
Hitters have so much scouting data available to them and hours of video. But Dalbec mostly wants to be familiar with where the opposing pitcher is likely to locate the ball, not necessarily be looking for a certain pitch on a certain count.
“The best guys make adjustments on the fly. I want to be good at that,” he said. “You can get too caught looking for a particular pattern and pitchers know they have to change it up.”
Dalbec only has 30 games of Triple A experience, but the Sox are committed to giving him a chance. This season will help determine if he is part of the core group of players chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom envisions building a productive future around.
“I would like to think I’m part of that,” Dalbec said. “I’ve got to perform to be part of that core. I’m trying to get better every day and the rest will take care of itself.
“But we have a good team this season. We can swing it. We have good character guys who want to win. I see a lot of guys with winning mentalities and that’s a real thing. We all believe in each other.”
Dalbec spent the winter in Arizona working out with Phillies infielder Scott Kingery, his old roommate at the University of Arizona, and former Sox teammate Kevin Pillar.
Dalbec also dropped 10 pounds and 5 percent of his body fat, the big league experience having motivated him to get a little more athletic.
“I got stronger and leaner. More fruits and veggies, the classic diet,” he said.
Dalbec, who came up as a third baseman, also is refining his play at first base, picking up nuances and learning better footwork from coaches Carlos Febles and Ramon Vazquez and minor league infield coordinator Andy Fox.
Dalbec’s parents, Tim and Liz, weren’t able to attend any of the games he played last season. Dalbec was excited to make his major league debut, but it didn’t feel the way he hoped.
The dream is to look up in the stands and see your family, not acres of empty seats.
“It was a ghost town last season. That was tough,” Dalbec said. “If I make the roster for Opening Day and if my parents are there, that will really feel like my debut. I know if there’s a way for them to get there, they will be.”