fb-pixel Skip to main content

Bryce Brentz looking to find role with Red Sox

Bryce Brentz was called up by the Red Sox on Wednesday and doubled in his first major league at-bat.KEITH SRAKOCIC/ASSOCIATED PRESS

BALTIMORE — Bryce Brentz turns 26 in December and this season is his fifth in the Red Sox organization. His career is at that uncomfortable stage where he will soon be too old and experienced to be considered a prospect.

A supplemental first-round pick in 2010, Brentz also faces the challenge of finding a role in an organization suddenly crowded with outfielders and righthanded hitters.

Brentz was called up on Wednesday in Pittsburgh and doubled in his first major league at-bat in the fifth inning when he pinch hit. But his future with the Red Sox is cloudy. Brentz could get traded or conceivably even squeezed off the 40-man roster over the offseason.


“You can beat yourself to death worrying about who the team has and where you will end up. I can’t worry about that,” said Brentz, who didn’t play in the Red Sox’ 7-2 loss to the Orioles on Saturday night. “We have a lot of great outfielders, so just getting called up was special for me. I’m trying to enjoy this and whatever happens I’ll deal with that for now.”

Health is the biggest concern for Brentz. Knee surgery in 2013 and a severe hamstring strain this year limited him to 160 games over two seasons. But he still managed 31 home runs in 666 regular-season at-bats. Over five seasons, Brentz has 83 homers. His power is legitimate.

“That’s a tool you can’t forget about,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “Bryce is a guy who can impact games with his bat. We saw that in spring training.”

Brentz also finished the minor league season well, something that will be in his favor when decisions are made.

Brentz was out from May 16 to July 17 with a strained right hamstring. He played seven games in the Gulf Coast League and two for Single A Lowell before rejoining Triple A Pawtucket.


Brentz had an .865 OPS and 25 RBIs in 24 games for Pawtucket in August. He was then 10 for 38 with three doubles in eight postseason games, helping the PawSox win the International League.

“I opened my stance a little bit toward the end. Made some adjustments so I wasn’t diving into pitches so much,” he said. “I was getting beat in some pitches and cutting my swing off on inside pitches. Anything middle or away, I was on. But I had to get to that inside pitch better.”

Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles, who is on the Red Sox coaching staff this weekend, believes Brentz is making progress and is a viable major leaguer.

“We saw the ability to use all fields, especially up the middle. He was managing the strike zone a lot better, too,” Boles said. “There’s some swing-and-miss in there and things and he needs to work on. But the impact that he does show, it’s very impressive.”

Brentz has improved defensively, too. On Sept. 12, with Pawtucket facing elimination from the IL finals at Durham, he threw a runner out at the plate in the 10th inning. The Sox then won the game in the 13th.

“That saved our season,” Boles said. “We pulled it out thanks to him. He’s much better defensively. His left-field play was much better. That’s where he’s a good fit.”

Brentz is looking forward to playing a full season and seeing what he can produce.


“The injuries have happened. My goal is to have a great offseason, work on my conditioning, and come back as a strong as I can be,” he said. “I don’t want the injury-prone label. I know if I’m healthy I’ll hit.”

For now, Brentz is looking forward to seeing his fraternal twin brother, Jared, get married in November.

“It’s been a good time. We won the league in Pawtucket, I got called up, and now my brother will be getting married,” Brentz said. “I want to keep it rolling.”

Napoli out again

First baseman Mike Napoli has not started since Wednesday and may not return to the lineup until Tuesday’s game against Tampa Bay at Fenway Park.

“We’re probably looking at when we get off this road trip,” Farrell said.

Napoli is hitless in his last 15 at-bats and 7 of 45 (.156) going back to Aug. 27 with two extra-base hits. He has been playing with a sprained left ring finger and a foot injury.

Allen Craig started at first base on Saturday.

“This also provides more regular and everyday at-bats for Allen Craig, even though it’s at a position he’s had the fewest games played,” Farrell said.

Carrying the load

Through Friday, David Ortiz, who drove in both runs Saturday night with a home run in the first inning, had driven in 17.3 percent of the runs the Red Sox had scored this season. That’s the highest percentage in the majors. Giancarlo Stanton of Marlins was second at 17.0 percent and Jose Abreu of the White Sox third at 16.5. Ortiz has had 10 seasons with at least 96 RBIs . . . When Rusney Castillo threw a runner out at the plate on Friday night, he became the ninth Red Sox outfielder with an assist this season. The Sox lead the American League with 36. Yoenis Cespedes leads the majors with 15 assists (12 with Oakland) with Jackie Bradley Jr. tied for second with 13 . . . The Red Sox had a scout in Kansas City on Saturday to watch righthander James Shields, who will be a free agent after the season. Shields took the loss, allowing three runs to the Tigers over 6⅔ innings. He is 14-8 with a 3.18 ERA . . . Brock Holt, who has not played since Sept. 5 because of a concussion, is tentatively scheduled for another exam on Tuesday. The Sox remain at least somewhat optimistic that Holt will get in a game or two before the season ends . . . With Castillo starting in center field, Bradley Jr. started in right field for the first time since May 3. Farrell said there was a chance Castillo would start some games in right field during the final homestand. “I kind of view them as almost interchangeable,” Farrell said. Castillo has so far played only center field in major and minor league games since signing with the Sox.


Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.