Red Sox prospect Michael Chavis the closest he’s ever been to the majors
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Michael Chavis was invited to major league spring training for the first time last year. But a strained oblique muscle kept him out of games.
Then came an 80-game suspension in April after a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs.
So when the 23-year-old infielder belted a three-run homer to right-center field in an 8-5 victory against the Yankees on Saturday, it was significant.
“That was really nice, honestly,” Chavis said. “It’s good to have that kind of success and get those results at first. But it’s not something you really try and focus on.
“We have so much going on day to day. It’s cool to see your hard work pay off in that kind of aspect. But it’s not the end goal. Everything we’re working for long term isn’t for home runs in major league spring training.”
Chavis said his only real goal for spring training has been to stay healthy and become a bigger part of the team than he was able to last year.
“I just want to be part of that group,” he said.
Chavis was a first-round pick out of Sprayberry High in Marietta, Ga., in 2014. Like every hot prospect, he thought his path to the majors would be smooth and quick.
But he struggled offensively for two seasons, injuries playing a role in that. And what seemed to be a breakout season in 2017 has been clouded by the suspension.
Chavis had a .919 OPS in 46 games after the suspension ended last season. But he has yet to make his major league debut.
“I didn’t have the most success immediately when I first got in to pro ball. It was up and down and inconsistent,” he said. “One of the things that I’ve focused on the most is to become more consistent, whether it’s offensively or defensively or base running.
“Part of being a high school draft [pick] when I was 18, I was pretty stupid . . . It’s just part of growing up, and I’m happy with the progress I made.”
Chavis was drafted as a shortstop then moved to third base. He has since played games at first base and in spring training will get some time at second base.
Chavis will be one of the leading candidates for a promotion when a need arises, which is almost inevitable. He’s as close as he’s ever been.
“Making myself available is the biggest thing,” he said.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora and Yankees manager Aaron Boone were teammates with the 2005 Cleveland Indians and went on to work together at ESPN. Then they became rookie managers in 2018.
Their friendship survived a season as rivals in the American League East. Boone won 100 games, but Cora won 108 followed by the World Series.
“We’re still cool,” Cora said. “He did an outstanding job in New York. For what everybody says and all that, he won 100 games. With the injuries and everything they went through, he did great.”
Said Boone: “He’s always somebody I respect a ton. I feel like we’ll always have a strong relationship.”
It even survived a bench-clearing brawl last April.
“The rivalry gets heated,” Boone said. “But I always love the guy and I always respect and appreciate our relationship. Maybe in some ways it’s grown.
“We probably talk a little less and are less specific about things, but the relationship is still strong.”
Ready for work
Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Brock Holt, and Eduardo Nunez are set to play on Sunday against the Twins . . . Third base prospect Bobby Dalbec hit a long home run against Northeastern on Friday. Cora thought Dalbec mis-hit the ball. “I was like, ‘Whoa, that’s pretty cool,’ ” he said. Dalbec said he hit the ball pretty well but he didn’t think it would go out . . . The first game drew a sold-out crowd of 9,884 . . . As they did on Friday before the exhibition game against Northeastern, the Sox had a moment of silence in memory of the Globe’s Nick Cafardo, who died on Thursday. David Ortiz also paid tribute via Instagram. “One of the absolute best at what he did,” Ortiz wrote. “Rest easy Nick, you did it all the right way.” The Yankees also issued a statement. “Baseball is family,” it said. “The New York Yankees send our deepest sympathies to the Cafardo family and the countless people throughout our game who considered Nick a friend. He will be missed greatly.”