Bobby Dalbec will head into spring training with something to prove. He knocked on the door to the big leagues last season but didn’t quite get the nod. Instead, the Red Sox brought him up in September so he could get used to being around the guys and understand what it means to be a big leaguer.
Now, however, it’s his time to prove he can be an everyday player in the big leagues. First base is up for grabs.
“I feel really comfortable [at first],” Dalbec said Thursday during the club’s rookie developmental program. “Just getting consistent work in there every day. Even the days I would DH, I would switch off and still get a lot of work there. So it was really good.”
Red Sox vice president of player development Ben Crockett noticed Dalbec’s development, too.
“He’s really continued to make some good strides at first base,” said Crockett. “I think that was a big developmental goal going to Team USA and the Premier12, was getting him more reps at first base just to get that comfort level with his footwork over there. It’s something he had done somewhat in college previously but obviously it had been a while.”
The Premier12 tournament proved to be an overall success for Dalbec. He was named to the All-World team after he hit .250 with 2 homers and a team-high 8 RBIs in 28 plate appearances. Team USA lost to Mexico, 3-2, in the bronze medal game.
“It was awesome, especially playing in high-pressure situations, which is likely to happen up here,” Dalbec said. “It was good. It was fun. Good to develop.”
It’s just three weeks until the start of spring training. Dalbec knows there will be attention on him, but that won’t change how he goes about his business.
“Be me,” Dalbec said. “Not try to do anything different, try to be anyone else’s guy. Stay to who I am. And keep working hard.”
Michael Chavis’s focus this offseason has been on versatility. The Red Sox want him to be able to play multiple positions, so Chavis takes that as a challenge to become more athletic.
“I approached this offseason a little bit differently knowing that I’m going to be versatile,” Chavis said. “If I play second, third, first, or outfield, I want to make sure that I was physically available and ready to go. So I worked a lot on mobility and general athleticism and footwork this offseason.”
Last season, Chavis played 49 games at first, 45 games at second, and five at third. He didn’t play the outfield, so that will be a first for him if the Sox experiment with him out there.
Chavis displayed some power, hitting 18 homers in 382 plate appearances. He’s prone to the strikeout, but the power threat alone makes him a valuable part of the lineup.
Though the Sox told him he would be a part of their plans moving forward, the plans could change, considering they are looking for a new manager.
Chavis said he texted Alex Cora thanking him for all he had done for him as a rookie in Boston.
“You hate seeing someone lose their job,” Chavis said, “and Alex has been so genuine and kind to me. He was very good to me.
“It was my first time in the big leagues, obviously, and I was trying to learn as much as I can. I was nervous. He did a very good job of making me comfortable.
Red Sox top prospect Triston Casas, in town to be recognized as the Minor League Player of the Year at the Boston Baseball Writers’ dinner, said he has grown an inch and added 10 pounds this offseason. The 20-year-old now stands at 6 feet 5 inches and 255 pounds.
He’s still growing?
“Hopefully not too much,” said Casas, a standout defensive first baseman for Single A Greenville in 2019. “I don’t want to have to go to the outfield.”
Casas said he appreciated the recognition he’s received for his 2019 season, and despite his concern that he had more strikeouts (116) than hits (107) in his first full pro season, the 2018 first-rounder expressed satisfaction in a year in which he hit .256/.350/.480 with 20 homers.
That said, he’s more interested in what lies ahead.
“There are a lot of improvements to be done,” he said. “I don’t feel like I had my best season. To be recognized by multiple people as the Red Sox’ best minor league player or hitter, it’s really nice, but at the end of the day, I don’t want to be a minor league player.”
Managers Billy McMillon (Triple A Pawtucket), Joe Oliver (Double A Portland), Iggy Suarez (Single A Greenville) and Luke Montz (Short A Lowell) all are returning to their respective minor league teams . . . The Red Sox outrighted infielder Marco Hernandez to Pawtucket.