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Red Sox confident they won’t second guess decision to start Christian Arroyo at second base

Christian Arroyo enters the 2023 season as Boston's starting second baseman.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Christian Arroyo has played 229 major league games since making his debut with the San Francisco Giants in 2017.

During that same time, the infielder spent 196 games on the injured list.

That’s an untenable ratio. Arroyo was a first-round pick of the Giants in the 2013 draft, seven spots ahead of Aaron Judge, because of his raw talent. But the ability to stay on the field has eluded him.

“I wish it wasn’t, but that’s part of my story,” Arroyo said. “I don’t want to think about that. Just go play baseball and keep it simple.”


For the Red Sox, Arroyo’s health is of paramount importance. As full-squad workouts get started Monday, he is their primary second baseman.

With Xander Bogaerts now a member of the Padres and Trevor Story recovering from elbow surgery, the Sox remade their middle infield. Kiké Hernández is the new shortstop and Arroyo is being counted on to handle second base.

At 27, it’s an opportunity Arroyo hasn’t necessarily earned because of all the injuries. But it’s one the Red Sox feel comfortable giving him because of that first-round talent.

As manager Alex Cora often points out, the Giants saw something in Arroyo when he was in high school.

“The guy can play,” Story said. “I think we’ve all seen that. I’m excited for him.”

Arroyo has heard it all before. But in his mind, that pedigree counts for only so much,

“It’s definitely cool to have been a first-round pick,” he said. “But as you get further away from the draft, at some point you have to play. You’ve got to produce.

“I try not to think about that stuff. It was almost 10 years ago. Instead I try to think about all the things I’ve learned and how far I have come, not what I haven’t been able to do. It’s all about perspective.”


Arroyo has shown that ability is still there. In 2021, he returned from a late-season injury and started 11 playoff games as the Sox advanced to the American League Championship Series.

He cracked a two-run homer off Houston’s Yimi Garcia in Game 3 of the ALCS at Fenway Park.

Christian Arroyo took Astros reliever Yimi Garcia deep in Game 3 of the 2021 ALCS.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

“We’ve seen what he can do,” Cora said. “He’s a good player.”

Last season was uneven as Arroyo played sporadically off the bench early in the year. He carried a .640 OPS into the All-Star break but then hit .329 with an .806 OPS over 45 second-half games when Story was injured and he played regularly.

That stretch gave the Red Sox confidence Arroyo could fill in for Story this season.

“Moving around, he was a little banged up,” Cora said. “When he plays every day, he’s a really good player.”

But there is the ever-present chance that he’ll end up on the injured list.

“I get it,” Arroyo said. “There’s only so much you can control. You have to get a feel for how you play the game. I’ve always tried never to take a play off and always play as hard as I can. But you have to learn at what point are you doing too much.”

Hustling to beat a throw to first base is expected. But it’s not necessary to throw your body at a sharply hit ball 12 feet away.


“You can play all out and beat yourself up physically. That was me, I never learned how to pick my spots,” Arroyo said. “That was something I’ve talked to [former teammate] J.D. [Martinez] about. You have to do it the right way.”

Arroyo has started games at five positions during his career. He feels he’s best at second base and the statistics back that up. Arroyo has 10 Defensive Runs Saved at second base and is minus-4 elsewhere.

Much of that can be attributed to a regrettable decision by the Red Sox to play Arroyo in right field for 17 games last season. He appeared to be on ice skates out there.

The new shift rules will require more athleticism by middle infielders. Arroyo feels he will benefit.

“One hundred percent. I’ll be comfortable out there. It’ll be the old-school way,” he said. “It’ll be interesting for everybody in the game to see how it looks.”

The Sox are committed to the idea. Once exhibition games start, Cora said the plan is to leave Arroyo at second base so he can prepare for the season. For now, his utilityman days are over.

“I’m appreciative of every opportunity I’ve ever had,” Arroyo said. “I wish Trevor wasn’t hurt. He’s such a good player. But I’m getting this chance and it’s up to me to make it work.”

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him @PeteAbe.