Almost nothing can prepare a player for the jump from the minors to the big leagues.
Not only must young players confront waves of extraordinary arms, but they typically do so on a schedule that defies the routines they’d experienced while moving through the player development ranks. Top prospects who became accustomed to playing every day in the minors typically end up being used more selectively in the big leagues while trying to cover some of their deficiencies and give them time to adjust to the game’s highest level.
The big league education of Bobby Dalbec has included a recent crash course in how to develop a routine as a part-time contributor. The 25-year-old was in the lineup on Wednesday in Houston against Astros lefthander Framber Valdez, but that starting nod came after he’d sat three of the prior four games.
“It’s tough,” Dalbec said of finding a routine amidst his inconsistent playing time. “I’ve been talking with myself about just how to stay sharp. Just treating every day like I’m going to get in there, anything can happen.”
Dalbec recently stood in the batter’s box while teammates Nick Pivetta and Nate Eovaldi threw bullpen sessions, and he’s also spent significant time swinging against a high-velocity, high-spin pitching machine, often at close range to force him to sharpen his reaction times.
“I want that work to be extremely uncomfortable so the game will feel easier, to some extent,” said Dalbec.
For now, Dalbec is in something akin to a platoon role at first base. His production has earned him regular starts against lefties (hitting .314/.340/.627) but bench time against most righties (.146/.216/.247).
“I definitely need to be better against righties and I’m not trying to get out of that. [But] I need to be better overall,” Dalbec said. “I’ve felt like [the struggles against righties are part of] one big puzzle.”
Sale sails some sliders
Lefthander Chris Sale threw 20 pitches off a bullpen mound in Fort Myers on Wednesday, featuring fastballs and changeups. He also threw three sliders. Manager Alex Cora received a report from the 32-year-old.
“He said the first slider, he threw it against the backstop, the second one almost killed somebody, and the third was a good one,” said Cora. “So he’s making progress.”
Ryan Brasier threw off a mound on Wednesday in Fort Myers and will face live hitters on Friday at the team’s extended spring training complex. He’s nearing a rehab assignment.
Getting work in Worcester
Brandon Workman, who exercised an opt-out clause in his minor league deal on Tuesday, threw a bullpen session in Worcester on Wednesday, at a time when he technically remains under minor league contract while awaiting the completion of the 48-hour period for the Red Sox to make a decision about whether to add him to the big league roster or grant him free agency.
The decision is due on Thursday. The Sox have yet to reach a definitive verdict about whether to call up Workman – a move that would necessitate removing a player from the 40-man roster.
“We’re going through the process. We’re talking a lot, where we’re at roster wise, what benefits [a call-up has] or [how it] doesn’t benefit us,” said Cora. “The conversations are going on.”
Bogaerts slump continues
Xander Bogaerts went 0 for 3 with a walk on Wednesday to extend his hitless streak to 0 for 21. He hasn’t had a hit in six consecutive games — his longest stretch since the epic struggles he endured as a 21-year-old rookie in 2014. The slump has dropped his season line to .309/.372/.536.
“Sometimes you go through stuff like this. It’s very unexpected. The other day I was feeling real good and now I’m feeling real bad. Nothing that I swing at is good and even when I put the ball in play the few times that I do, it’s not finding any holes,” said Bogaerts. “I have a lot of at-bats and I’ve been feeling pretty bad, just not being able to pick up the spin on the ball.”
However, the shortstop remained undaunted.
“I’ve been through this. I’ve been in stretches where I’ve definitely looked worse than I’ve been in right now,” said Bogaerts. “I’ve felt much worse and I’ve looked much worse. Believe me, I’m going back here tomorrow and I’m going to be the first one in the cage and continue to work.”
Red Sox minor league outfielder Johan Mieses earned a promotion from Double-A Portland to Triple-A Worcester by blasting 11 homers (tied for most in the minors) in 22 games while hitting .286/.368/.714.
“It’s real power. The homers are legit,” said Red Sox farm director Brian Abraham. “His ability to drive the baseball and overall production at the plate has been consistent all season for Portland in the middle of their lineup. We felt now was a good opportunity to challenge him at the next level.”
The Sox signed Mieses, 25, as a minor league free agent after the 2019 season, when he hit .233/.319/.440 in Double-A and Triple-A for the Cardinals. Catcher Connor Wong, sidelined in Worcester since May 11 following a hamstring injury and then time on the Red Sox taxi squad, was activated and returned to the WooSox lineup for Wednesday’s game.
Major League Baseball celebrated the first inaugural Lou Gehrig Day on Wednesday, with all players wearing a patch honoring the Yankee legend and the fight against ALS, the disease that took his life at age 37.
“Lou Gehrig was a special human. Pete [Frates] was a special human,” said Dalbec. “It means a lot to be on the field any day, but especially days like this it means a little more I think.”
The Red Sox will observe Lou Gehrig Day during their next homestand on Tuesday, June 8. The team has planned a pregame tribute to Gehrig and also plans to honor the family of former Boston College captain Pete Frates as well as Dr. Merit Cudkowicz, Director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for ALS.
The team is selling limited edition hats for $20 on redsox.com/frates to support specialized care for ALS patients at the Chelsea Jewish Lifecare Center’s Leonard Florence Residence.