BALTIMORE — The Red Sox have numerous holes in their roster to fill during the offseason. But catcher may not necessarily be one of them.
The front office and coaching staff are impressed with 26-year-old Connor Wong, who has started four of the last eight games and is scheduled to be in the lineup on Sunday.
“The presence behind the plate, he doesn’t panic,” manager Alex Cora said Saturday. “He’s a good athlete; he has a great arm; very smart; studies the game. Physically he’s a lot better than last year … he’s strong and he moves well.”
Wong was one of the prospects the Red Sox obtained in the 2020 trade that sent Mookie Betts to the Dodgers. He has played only 16 major league games since but is showing signs he’s ready for a heavier workload.
Wong hit .288 with an .839 OPS at Triple A Worcester this season. That Woo Sox hitting coach Rich Gedman caught 13 years in the big leagues was helpful to his development.
The Dodgers used Wong as a utility player, playing him most often as a catcher but also at second and third. Since joining the Sox he had started only two games at other positions.
“He was part of a big trade here. Hopefully he can become that guy that we feel he can be,” Cora said. “There’s a reason he was part of that trade. Little by little he’s showing why.”
Wong is 2 for 11 since being called up on Sept. 1. But he has struck out only twice and drawn three walks.
“That’s what we’re trying to do, control the strike zone,” Cora said. “I don’t want to say swing less, but swing at the right pitches. That’s the most important thing and Wonger has done it.”
There’s been a hint of power, too. Wong’s first career home run, on Sept. 2 at Fenway Park, was a 439-foot shot. He also had a 109-miles-per-hour double off the wall in right field here on Friday.
Rain is in the forecast for Sunday’s series finale. The Sox have Rich Hill scheduled to start against Kyle Bradish.
The teams have a mutual off day Monday but the rain is expected to continue for much of that day.
The Sox host a two-game series against the Yankees starting Tuesday. They are planning to start Nick Pivetta and Brayan Bello. The Yankees have Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes lined up.
Nate Eovaldi reached 10 years of major league service time during the road trip, a plateau fewer than 10 percent of players achieve. Ten years also fully vests players in MLB’s pension plan, which can pay up to $220,000 a year. Eovaldi, who is on the injured list with a sore shoulder, threw two innings in the bullpen on Saturday … J.D. Martinez’s single in the second inning on Friday was the 1,500th base hit of his career. Martinez is one of only 149 players all time with at least 1,500 hits, 275 home runs, 300 doubles, 500 walks, and 875 RBIs … Triston Casas, who was 2 for 18 with seven strikeouts since being called up, was out of the lineup as Christian Arroyo started at first base. “He needs to get benched at the big-league level, that’s part of it, right,” said Cora, who was joking. “He’s been good and defensively he’s been solid.” … Former Red Sox infielder Jonathan Araúz, who was claimed off waivers by the Orioles on June 15, was outrighted to Triple A Norfolk on Friday after being designated for assignment earlier in the week. The 24-year-old Araúz has hit .200 with a .584 OPS over parts of three seasons in the majors.