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nick cafardo | on baseball

There’s no sitting super sub Brock Holt

Shortstop Brock Holt was greeted by happy teammates after his three-run blast in the eighth inning gave the Red Sox the lead.Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports

BALTIMORE — The only position Brock Holt hates is sitting.

“Believe me, I’m glad to be here. When I’m sitting on the bench I don’t feel like I’m helping our team win a game. So yeah, sitting on the bench isn’t so fun. But believe me, when I get a chance to play, no matter where it is, I’m going to make the most of it,” Holt said before delivering the key blow in a 7-5 win over the Orioles Thursday night.

Holt was subbing at shortstop for the slumping Xander Bogaerts and delivered a three-run blast to right field on a 1-and-2 pitch to break a 4-4 tie in the eighth inning. It was Holt’s second hit of the game.

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Holt has five major league home runs, and four have given the Red Sox the lead.

This is a great little story about an electric little player.

Holt isn’t out to beat anyone out for a job, but you wonder if he could Wally Pipp his way around the diamond. John Farrell thought Holt was a better option against Miguel Gonzalez and had no hesitancy in playing him at one of the most difficult positions in an AL East showdown.

He’s started games at second base (1), shortstop (3), third base (2), and center field (2) so far this season. He’s recorded multiple hits in five of his nine starts.

He hasn’t committed an error since playing third base last August against the Yankees — 40 games ago.

Would he like to settle in at one position?

Sure he would. Other super utility guys such as Josh Harrison have become permanent players. Harrison, coincidentally, was the guy ahead of Holt on the utility depth chart in Pittsburgh and the Pirates chose Harrison over Holt, dealing Holt to the Red Sox in the Joel Hanrahan trade in 2012.

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Holt, hitting .424, is only human and will likely wear down as he did last season, when he hit .219 the second half. But in the meantime, he’s fun to watch.

There’s a natural buzz around him. He’s Charlie Hustle. He’s a hybrid player with pieces of every position in his DNA and each night a new derivative of it comes out.

He’s almost like a robot. Plug him in at shortstop and he’ll act like a shortstop. Tomorrow you can insert him in center field and he’ll go out and make great plays and collect a couple of hits.

Holt didn’t invent utility. Steve Lyons made a career out of it. He was a terrific center fielder and third baseman, an unusual combination. He could even catch in a pinch.

Catcher is one position Holt may never get to play. For one, he’s too small and could get hurt. Plus the Sox have Mike Napoli to fill in at catcher if need be.

Holt never imagined he would be this all-position player. He was groomed as a middle infielder, and second and shortstop remain his best positions. When asked to add positions to his repertoire, Holt took it as a challenge, a chance to show he could be flexible enough to play the corner infield and outfield. He passed every test. He forced the Red Sox to make him their 10th player.

It’s better than toiling in Pawtucket. That’s something Holt keeps telling himself every time he might think that he’s exhausted from playing everywhere.

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Teams called about Holt in the offseason. Some wanted to make them their second baseman, but the Red Sox resisted any trade overtures, feeling they had a special player they could use to give their regulars a rest.

Holt thinks he can play every day at any position. And there’s no doubting he can.

His teammates respect him greatly. They were incredibly happy for him after Friday’s big blast. They understand the arduous nature of his job. And none of them would ever say they wanted to trade places.

Most of his teammates are amazed at how fundamentally sound he is all over the field. Even in the ninth inning Friday, when he was moved from shortstop to left field, he managed to hold Steve Pearce to a single on a ball that reached the corner and could easily have been a run-scoring double. Caleb Joseph had to stop at third.

“It’s just playing the game, understanding what’s going on. Trying to keep the double play intact there and maybe we get a ground ball and finish the game. I knew I wasn’t going to get [Joseph] at third, and so I’m just trying to keep [Pearce] at first,” Holt said.

Holt hit a high fastball for the home run. He said he wasn’t swinging for the fences, just trying to make contact.

“We were fortunate to get it tonight. Big win for us,” Holt said.

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David Ortiz, who hit a three-run homer to put Boston on top in the fifth, was thrilled when Holt delivered.

“He’s fun to watch. So happy for him. Last year he kind of was up and down [between Pawtucket and Boston] and all of a sudden we keep him and you saw the year he put together last year,” Ortiz said.

Holt took part in the dugout celebration. Teammates were grinning ear to ear.

Who knows where Holt will be Saturday?

He’ll be happy anywhere. Except sitting on the bench.


Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.