Kevin Pillar wants to take advantage of ‘amazing opportunity’ with Red Sox

Kevin Pillar was cut loose by the Giants even though he led them in runs (82), hits (157), doubles (37), RBIs (87), home runs (21), and stolen bases (14) last season.
Kevin Pillar was cut loose by the Giants even though he led them in runs (82), hits (157), doubles (37), RBIs (87), home runs (21), and stolen bases (14) last season. JIM DAVIS/Globe Staff

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Kevin Pillar has played 47 games with 179 at-bats at Fenway Park since he broke into the majors in 2013.

But the only home run he has there came that first season off Felix Doubront on Sept. 22.

The Sox are hoping there will be a few more coming after they signed Pillar to a one-year contract. He officially joined the team Saturday.

“I think it’s an amazing opportunity for me,” Pillar said. “I feel I’m best suited for a team that’s trying to win. My style of play is conducive for going out there and doing whatever it takes to get a win that day.”


Pillar should be a useful fourth outfielder, and likely a starter early in the season as Alex Verdugo continues to recover from a stress fracture in his back.

The 31-year-old Pillar was projected to receive $9.7 million this season in what would have been his final turn through arbitration.

But the rebuilding Giants nontendered him instead, preferring to give more playing time to younger, and far less expensive outfielders such as Mike Yastrzemski, Alex Dickerson, and Steven Duggar.

So even though Pillar led the Giants in runs (82), hits (157), doubles (37), RBIs (87), home runs (21), and stolen bases (14), he was cut loose.

Other teams felt the same way as Pillar had to settle for a one-year, $4.25 million contract.

Why is that? Pillar drew only 18 walks last season, which led to a .293 on-base percentage and .735 OPS. There were 169 hitters with at least 450 plate appearances last season and only four had a lower OBP.

“In this game, you adapt or die,” Pillar said. “You have to start to value what the game values. Baseball values power. Baseball values on-base percentage.

“I was able to improve on an area of my game in power. Going through the free agent process, I was reminded how important it is to get on base. It’s going to be a major focus of mine going into spring training.”


The righthanded-hitting Pillar is primarily a center fielder and could platoon with Jackie Bradley Jr.

He also started 24 games in right field for the Giants last season, experience that should serve him well filling in for Verdugo.

“I’ll be better prepared this time around to handle all three outfield positions with a full spring training,” he said.

Sale on the field

Like a tall, skinny woodchuck emerging from his den, Chris Sale came out of the clubhouse and played catch on the field.

His time on the grass was brief, but at least Sale is starting his comeback from a bout with pneumonia.

“He still doesn’t have full strength back,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “I think he’s progressing fine. We’re still going to go a little easy on him.”

For at least a few more days, Sale will do most of his work inside the clubhouse with the medical staff to improve his conditioning.

Out for a stroll

Christian Vazquez left the ballpark pushing his infant son, Diego, in a stroller. Diego was born in November and has been at the park with his mom, Gabriela, for several workouts. Vazquez joked that he wanted his son to become a lefthanded pitcher instead of a catcher because the money was better . . . Position players report on Sunday for their physicals. Most already have arrived. Xander Bogaerts was the latest to check in . . . The Sox have not yet named a bench coach, but it’s worth noting that special assistant Jason Varitek is taking a more active role with the players and that Martin Perez was asked to give up No. 33, the number Varitek wore as a player.


Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.