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With Bobby Dalbec’s path to a Red Sox roster spot at the corners blocked, could he carve out a role up the middle?

Bobby Dalbec has been getting some reps at shortstop as spring training winds down.Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Bobby Dalbec began the spring on the outskirts of a roster spot. After he spent much of the last two seasons on the big league squad, the Sox inked Justin Turner to a two-year deal with the expectation that he will be their designated hitter and play some first base opposite rookie Triston Casas.

That meant Dalbec would be on the outside looking in and would likely be summoned to Triple A Worcester to start the year. But as camp winds down, there, in fact, might be a way for Dalbec to crack the Opening Day roster.



The Sox signed Yu Chang to a minor league deal at the beginning of camp with the expectation that he could be a depth piece. But his commitment to the World Baseball Classic for Chinese Taipei meant that Chang wouldn’t join the Sox until the end of the tournament. Visa issues further delayed Chang, and he won’t arrive at camp until Thursday. The final day of spring is Tuesday, meaning little to no time for Chang, who hasn’t played competitive baseball in close to two weeks, to ramp up.

Keep in mind, Adalberto Mondesi (knee) won’t be ready for the start of the season. If the Sox don’t think Chang will be ready for Opening Day, then Dalbec will fill that backup middle infield role, something the Sox are very comfortable with.

“His actions are great,” said Cora, who mentioned Dalbec will play some second, too. “Bobby was like the best defensive third baseman in college baseball when he got drafted and the way he moves, he’s a good defender. The way he thinks the game defensively is very impressive and his arm plays everywhere. So he’s a great athlete.”

Dalbec could be a possibility at any number of positions this spring.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Dalbec’s athleticism can go unnoticed. When he plays on the left side of the infield, Dalbec shows off his range and underrated speed. His strong arm has even more value.


He’s played the position just three times in his big league career. Before that was high school, roughly 10 years ago. While it’s an adjustment, Dalbec is confident he can handle shortstop.

“I’ve been taking some grounders there a little bit,” Dalbec said. “Double play stuff is pretty much different. Finding the bags and going up the middle, that angle is a little bit different. It’s just more of a turn. But I feel comfortable at all four infield positions. Mainly third, first and short. Second is probably my least comfortable.”

To begin the top of the eighth of the Sox’ 11-0 loss to the Twins, Dalbec shifted from first base to shortstop, replacing Kiké Hernández, and turned a double play started by second baseman Chase Meidroth to end the frame.

“He makes all the plays,” Cora said. “We’ve come up with him at second, too, that’s good for Bobby, more versatile. We know he can hit lefties. That’s very important too. So just keep playing and then we’ll make decisions accordingly.”

After spending much of his time this spring with the unknown hovering over his roster status, Dalbec might just have found his way.

“I knew just to be ready for everything,” Dalbec said. “A lot of people think I’m just a very slow swing-and-miss guy. But I’ve been working on getting on base and being a threat on the basepath. Whatever I can do to help the team is what I’m going to do.”


Julian McWilliams can be reached at julian.mcwilliams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack.