NEW YORK — Blake Swihart hadn’t played a game for the Red Sox since June 4, 2016, the day he injured his left ankle trying to make a play on a fly ball down the left-field line at Fenway Park.
Swihart’s foot hit the wall and bent at such a sharp angle that his toes touched his shin. He was able to walk off the field but hasn’t been the same since.
Swihart tried to rehabilitate the injury but had surgery 10 weeks later and missed the remainder of that season. Lingering issues with the ankle limited him to 62 games in the minors this season and he hit only .187 with a .545 OPS.
Swihart was added to the major league roster on Friday to give the team a third catcher. But he caught only three games for Triple A Pawtucket last month.
“I could catch if they need me to catch,” Swihart said on Sunday before the Sox played the Yankees, a game in which he walked as a pinch hitter in the ninth. “I feel as healthy as I have in a while.”
Swihart, 25, was once one of the organization’s top prospects. A switch-hitting catcher with uncommon athletic ability, the former first-round pick was always excluded in trade talks because of his potential.
Now he’s at a career crossroads. Swihart will be out of minor league options next season, so he has to make the team out of spring training. The alternative is being traded or designated for assignment.
With Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon established as the catchers, the Sox are working on Swihart’s versatility. He played seven games at first base in the minors this season and worked out at other spots.
“I’ll play first, I’ll catch. I’ve taken grounders at third and there’s left field,” said Swihart. “I’m a switch-hitter, so there’s value in playing a few positions. I just want to be on the team.”
The Sox will have Swihart play winter ball to make up for the time missed this season. That would give him a head start into spring training — or increase his trade value.
“He’s had a tough two years physically when you think of all the things that have gone down with him,” manager John Farrell said. “We recognize where he’s at contractually going into next year. Trying to create some versatility on the defensive side of things is part of the overall plan.
“We’ve had to balance how many days that he can get on the field just because of the restrictions on the ankle.”
Farrell said he wouldn’t hesitate to make an in-game move that would result in Swihart catching.
David Price played catch before the game and is scheduled to throw 30-35 pitches in the bullpen at Fenway Park on Monday. Price will incorporate breaking balls into his mound work for the first time.
“After get through that, hopefully we begin to see when he might start facing some hitters,” Farrell said. “I don’t want to get too far ahead, but he came out feeling fine.”
Once Price is ready for hitters, that would be with the major league team. With rosters expanded, there are plenty of extra players to put together a simulated game.
Price, who has been out since July 22 with a triceps strain, has made rapid progress in the last week.
“He’s feeling pretty good about himself physically,” Farrell said.
The Sox recalled infielder Deven Marrero and righthander Hector Velazquez from Triple A Pawtucket. They are now carrying 35 players.
The only healthy players on the 40-man roster not on the major league roster at this point are pitchers Brian Johnson, Kyle Martin, Henry Owens, and Ben Taylor.
The Sox plan to activate righthanded reliever Carson Smith off the disabled list early this week. Because he’s on the 60-day disabled list, that will require a 40-man roster move.
The Yankees also made some moves. Outfielder Aaron Hicks was placed on the disabled list with a left oblique strain. Lefthanded reliever Caleb Smith was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Andrew Benintendi was named the American League rookie of the month for August. He is the first Sox rookie to win a player of the month award since Jose Iglesias in May 2013. Iglesias was traded two months later.
“I hope we’re in the World Series in two months,” Benintendi said.
Benintendi hit .333 with a .979 OPS over 26 games. He had 5 doubles, 6 home runs, 19 RBIs, and 14 walks. He also had a career-long 11-game hit streak from Aug. 5-18.
Uniting for charity
The Sox and Yankees joined together to raise funds for Hurricane Harvey relief. The teams will auction off autographed uniforms and equipment from Sunday night’s game with all the proceeds going to support victims of the storm.
Farrell and Yankees manager Joe Girardi took part in a ceremony before the game to publicize the effort.
Red Sox items, including game-used jerseys from all players and coaches from the game, will be available to be bid upon at redsox.com/harvey.
Additional items on the website will include a home plate signed by the entire team, along with autographed caps from every Sox player and coach.
Yankees items will be at steinersports.com/harvey.
Brock Holt still has severe bruising on his left foot, the result of being hit by Dellin Betances slider on Thursday night. “I can play now, it’s feeling better,” he said. “But that was as much pain as I’ve ever had from being hit by a pitch.” Holt played left field on Friday, limping through nine innings without incident . . . Rick Porcello, who starts Monday against Toronto, traveled back to Boston before the game . . . Sunday’s game started 30 minutes earlier than usual for an ESPN Sunday night game. The Yankees, who play at Baltimore on Monday afternoon, asked for the time change and were accommodated. Farrell said the Sox have asked ESPN for time changes in the past and were refused. In 2013, the Sox played a Sunday night game in Boston on Aug. 18 then at San Francisco the next day. “That was probably one you’d like to maybe play a little earlier than 8 o’clock,” Farrell said. Why were the Sox refused? “That’s above my pay grade. I have no idea,” Farrell said.