Brock Holt was an everyday player for the Red Sox for much of last summer until a concussion ended his season in September. He started 105 games and was arguably one of the team’s most valuable players.
The team’s winter spending spree left Holt with less playing time. Through 11 games, only backup catcher Sandy Leon and the unfortunate Allen Craig have fewer plate appearances.
But Holt has learned how to make his chances count. He was 3 for 4 with a stolen base in Saturday’s 4-1 loss against Baltimore and is 11 of 19 (.579) this season.
Holt started in center field and batted leadoff in place of Mookie Betts. Manager John Farrell wanted to get Holt in the lineup against Orioles starter Chris Tillman.
“My personal goal [for] Brock is to keep him in the mix as much as possible.”
Holt says he approaches every day as if he’s going to be in the lineup.
“It’s hard to keep a rhythm when you’re not in there every game,” he said. “I do the same thing routine-wise I would do if I was playing every day. Just sometimes I’m not in there. I try and keep that part of it the same and work on things in the cage and if I’m in there, great. If not, be ready to go.”
Holts has twice started in center field, once at shortstop, and once at third base. He’ll also see time at second base, left field, right field, and perhaps first base.
Despite playing so many positions, Holt has gone 36 games without committing an error.
Betts pinch ran in the ninth inning. He is 9 of 43 (.209) with a low .666 OPS. He was 0 for 3 on Friday, part of a 2-for-13 dip over three games.
“His approach at the plate hasn’t changed. The batting average isn’t the reason he isn’t in the lineup,” Farrell said. “Mookie’s hit into some tough luck at times . . . He’s our center fielder.”
Daniel Nava started in right field. Shane Victorino was initially in the lineup, but was scratched because of sore ribs on his left side.
Victorino crashed into the wall along the right field line on Friday night chasing a home run hit by Caleb Joseph in the fifth inning.
Farrell said Victorino would be checked on Sunday and could play.
Nava was 0 for 3. The switch-hitter essentially gave up hitting righthanded this spring. A natural lefthanded hitter, Nava has been significantly better from that side since he was called up to the majors in 2010.
“The coaches started talking to me about it in 2013,” Nava said. “It was hard to give it up, and I haven’t entirely given it up, because it was something I have always done.”
On Friday night, in an obvious sacrifice situation against Baltimore lefthander Brian Matusz, Nava batted righthanded, successfully bunted Mike Napoli to second base, and the Red Sox won the game on a single by Xander Bogaerts.
“I had never bunted lefthanded against a lefthanded pitcher before and I didn’t want to start then,” Nava said. “I knew I’d have a better shot if I bunted righthanded. Had to get the job done and the coaches knew that was the best thing.”
Said Farrell: “Whatever it takes. Certainly not going to force him.”
Nava is hitting .263 over 19 at-bats. There’s not enough of a sample size to really judge. But the coaching staff believes Nava should stick with hitting just lefthanded.
“His at-bats against righthanders may be a little bit more productive because he’s seeing pitches from the same side of the plate,” Farrell said.
“There’s no going back and forth to regain a tracking ability at the plate. He’s seeing it all from the same side.”
Orioles lose Schoop
Baltimore placed infielder Jonathan Schoop on the 15-day disabled list and activated infielder Jimmy Paredes from the DL.
Schoop partially tore his posterior cruciate ligament and sprained his medial collateral ligament in the fifth inning Friday when he tripped over Napoli’s leg at first base while running out a ground ball.
Schoop finished the game, but his knee swelled afterward. The Orioles believe he will avoid surgery and return to play this season.
Fenway open house
The Red Sox play in Baltimore next Saturday, but Fenway Park will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The free Open House will feature a 2 p.m. game between Florida A&M and North Carolina Central.
Until 1 p.m., fans can walk around the warning track, sit in the dugouts, and peer into the Green Monster.
Red Sox alumni will be on hand to sign autographs and the concession stands will be open.
Bautista on board
The Red Sox have signed 32-year-old righthander Denny Bautista to a minor league contract, according to Baseball America. Bautista has seven years of major league experience but none since 2010. He pitched in Korea from 2011-13 and in Mexico last season. Bautista has been primarily a reliever in his career . . . Sox general manager Ben Cherington attended the Vanderbilt-South Carolina game Thursday. Vanderbilt righthander Carson Fulmer, one of the top prospects in the draft, threw seven shutout innings and struck out nine. The Commodores also have well-regarded shortstop Dansby Swanson. Cherington said last week he hoped to get an in-person look at every player the Sox are considering with their first pick.
Breslow event April 30
Craig Breslow will host the third annual “Sip Happens” event on April 30 at the WGBH Studios in Brighton. The food and wine tasting starts at 7 p.m. with a VIP reception at 6:15. The event benefits the Strike 3 Foundation for pediatric cancer research and treatment. Nearly the entire Sox roster attended last season as $320,000 was raised. Go to strike3foundation.org for information or to purchase tickets . . . The third annual David Ortiz Children’s Fund Gala will be June 22 at Boston Marriott Copley Place. The cocktail reception and dinner benefits the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children and the World Pediatric Project. Go to davidortiz.splashthat.com for information and tickets . . . Former Sox player Steve Lyons was at Jim Rice Field in Roxbury before the game to throw out the first pitch of the RBI League. The ever-versatile Lyons threw out a baseball and softball.
The NCAA champion Providence College hockey team was recognized before Saturday’s game and got a nice hand from the crowd. Senior captain Ross Mauermann , coach Nate Leaman, and athletic director Bob Driscoll threw out first pitches . . . Pawtucket outfielder Rusney Castillo, who is on the Triple A disabled list with right shoulder strain, briefly played catch in the outfield before the game with therapist Dan Dyrek watching . . . The Sox have held at least a share of first place for 11 of the season’s 13 days. They had a share of first one day in 2014.
Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.