Michael Chavis feeling right at home in big spot for Red Sox
Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black did the right thing in the bottom of the 10th inning on Wednesday night when he intentionally walked Rafael Devers to get to Michael Chavis.
Devers has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball over the last few weeks and Chavis is a rookie still prone to strikeouts.
“They had no choice,” Mookie Betts said. “That was the right move.”
But it also put the right man at the plate for the Red Sox. Chavis has given the team a lift since he was called up on April 19 and shown teammates he’s not afraid of the moment.
“He can hit, that’s the first thing,” said Steve Pearce, who has the locker next to Chavis at Fenway Park. “And he knows he can hit. But it’s not that he’s arrogant. He’s confident.”
But Chavis didn’t take it for granted that he would even be swinging away at Chad Bettis. He looked down at third base coach Carlos Febles to see if the bunt sign was on.
“All I’m really thinking is, ‘Don’t make me bunt.’ I wanted to hit,” Chavis said.
Oh, rookies. They’re so earnest. Chavis hadn’t sacrificed since a minor league game in 2015. Swing away, Febles signaled.
Chavis received a quickie scouting report from hitting coach Tim Hyers on his way to the plate. He was told that Bettis throws a fastball and cutter.
The first pitch was a cutter over the plate, a little inside, and Chavis grounded it into center field. That scored Xander Bogaerts from second.
“Everything’s working away, so I was just trying to get him up and get a good pitch to hit and not do too much with it,” Chavis said. “I didn’t need a home run, just a single.”
With center fielder David Dahl playing deep, the Rockies had no chance at making a play. By the time the throw came in, Chavis had rounded first and Betts was sprinting at him followed by Rick Porcello and Chris Sale.
The Sox had a 6-5 victory after blowing a 5-0 lead. The rally was needed with a day off on Thursday and the Houston Astros coming in Friday riding an eight-game win streak.
“I got tackled by Mookie and gave him a hug. That was great, honestly,” Chavis said. “I’m a big hugger. I get that from my mom.”
For a 23-year-old with 22 games of major league experience, Chavis had a refined approach with the game on the line.
“In my minor league career I’ve had a decent amount of success in those scenarios,” he said. “When this kind of situation comes up, it’s definitely one of those times I want to be the person hitting.
“Nobody out and [Bettis] is kind of in a tough spot. One of the things that I learned when I was younger is in those kinds of situations; a lot of people feel the pressure. You want to do the big thing; you want to get the big hit. I’ve kind of learned to change the perception of it where the pressure is on him. He’s got two guys on and nobody out. He can blow it right here. He needs to get me and two other people out.”
The clubhouse sound system was playing “Late Night” by Lucky Daye when Chavis made his way up from the field.
“I’m happy for the kid,” Pearce said over the din. “He’s helped us a lot. It reminds me of Andrew McCutchen when he came up with Pittsburgh when I was there.
“You can see he’s not afraid and that he can hit. You want to see him at the plate.”
Since being called up, Chavis leads the Sox with seven home runs and 21 RBIs. There have been 25 strikeouts but also 14 walks.
The Sox also don’t mind seeing Chavis at second base after initially saying they didn’t expect to use him much there. He made a nice play going over the middle and throwing across his body in the eighth inning to take a hit away from Ryan McMahon.
“I’m just trying to do my part,” Chavis said. “It’s been fun. Xander has helped me a ton over there. He’s showing me where I need to be. I get more comfortable every day.”
The Sox will have some roster decisions to make as other players get healthy. But one thing is certain: Chavis is here to stay.