Man-for-all-positions Danny Santana could join the Red Sox roster as soon as the current six-game road trip.
Santana has hit .364/.423/.682 with two homers, a double, and a steal in six games with High A Greenville and Triple A Worcester. He has played shortstop, second, third, left, and center in those half-dozen contests.
“He’s almost there,” manager Alex Cora said. “We’ve been moving him around all over the place. He’s moving well.
“This is a guy, it gives us another alternative. Let’s see where it takes us. We feel good about where he’s at, not only physically, but as a hitter and as a player.”
Santana, 30, had an April 30 opt-out in his minor league deal, but he and the Red Sox agreed to push that date into May when the start of his season was delayed by a foot infection in spring training. He’ll remain in Worcester at least through Tuesday, but his ability to move all over the field and switch-hit could prove particularly valuable during Boston’s weekend series against Philadelphia, during which National League rules will be in effect (with no designated hitter).
In 2019, Santana hit .283/.324/.534 with 28 homers and 21 steals in 130 games for the Rangers. But in 2020, while limited to 15 games by an elbow injury that ultimately required modified Tommy John surgery in September, his numbers slid to .145/.278/.273.
The Sox signed him in spring training — while he was still working his way back from the surgery — to a minor league deal that included a prorated $1.75 million big league salary. Though Santana was slowed by the foot infection, both his foot and elbow have recovered to the point where he’s likely to help in the big leagues in the near future.
The presence of Santana along with Kiké Hernández (expected back from his hamstring injury Tuesday) and Marwin Gonzalez would give the Red Sox three of the most versatile players in the game.
During a big league career that spanned parts of 14 seasons from 1991-2004, Red Sox outfield/first base coach Tom Goodwin jokingly suggests, he modeled his outfield play on an icon from another sport.
Goodwin described himself as “a guy who didn’t have a strong arm at all — I think I had maybe two in my career. I was like Shaq with assists.”
Goodwin was being a bit unfair to himself — he had 34 career assists — and Shaquille O’Neal, whose 299 assists in 1999-2000 are the third-most by a 7-footer in the last 25 years. That said, it’s safe to say that neither Goodwin nor O’Neal delivered assists at the eye-catching pace of this year’s Red Sox outfield.
The Sox lead the majors with 13 outfield assists (entering Monday, no other team had more than 10). Hunter Renfroe has been particularly dazzling, with five assists from right field — tied for the most by any outfielder this season.
In addition to his arm, Renfroe also has shown impressive range. He is tied for the lead among right fielders with eight defensive runs saved (per Baseball Information Solutions) while MLB.com ranks him the fourth-best right fielder with two outs above average (a metric that evaluates only his range and not his arm).
“He’s been marvelous — not just throwing,” said Goodwin. “He’s almost a center fielder playing right field. He communicates a lot as far as the positioning goes. He’s just done a great job being a leader out there.”
Goodwin said that Renfroe’s pregame work was reminiscent of that of former Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
Araúz to Worcester
With Hernández set to come off the injured list, the Red Sox optioned Jonathan Araúz to Worcester after Sunday’s game. Araúz is 2 for 8 with a double and two walks in four big league games this year. Hernández, serving as the team’s primary center fielder while also seeing a half-dozen games at second base, is hitting .239/.298/.425 with four homers and 12 extra-base hits in 30 games … After Monday’s off-day, the Red Sox are set to open their lone series in Dunedin, Fla., Tuesday. The Blue Jays are still playing home games at their spring training venue, TD Ballpark, but when the Red Sox next play them on the road in July, the Jays will have migrated north to Sahlen Field in Buffalo. They aren’t permitted to host games in Toronto under COVID-19 travel restrictions … The Red Sox will face Jays ace Hyun Jin Ryu in the opener Tuesday. The lefty is coming off his best start of the season (7 innings, 1 run, 6 strikeouts) in a 4-1 win against the Braves last Wednesday.