Brock Holt makes compelling case to stay in big leagues

May 21, 2014 - 7:56 am
Brock Holt's first year with the Red Sox did not go as well as planned. After moving over to the organization from the Pirates alongside closer Joel Hanrahan, the 25-year-old struggled in limited exposure at the major league level (.203/.275/.237 with 11 RBIs) and did not hit well at Triple-A Pawtucket (.258/.327/.309 with three homers and 24 RBIs), where he spent most of the season. With 2013 in the rearview mirror, Holt headed to spring training with a new mindset. He just wanted to have fun. Despite a minimal chance of making the team due to the acquisition of infielder Jonathan Herrera, Holt was determined to make his mark any way possible and thus find a confidence that he was lacking during his inaugural season with the Red Sox. Holt wanted to get back to playing baseball the way he played growing up in Fort Worth, Texas. "Confidence is pretty high right now," Holt said Tuesday. "I'm just going out there and trying to have fun and try to play relaxed, and it's been working. I told myself going into this year to just have fun and that it's just a game and go out and play like you've played since you were little, and that's what I'm trying to do. And right now, it seems to be working OK." Just six weeks into the season, Holt already has made the drive up I-95 from Pawtucket twice. Even as he shuffles back and forth between teams, Holt tries to keep a simple level-headed approach, day in and day out. "You try to keep the same mindset," Holt said. "Obviously, this is where you want to be, so whenever you go down it's a bummer, but you've got to keep a level head and know that you're still just a phone call away from coming back, so just try to keep the same approach, same mindset, play the game hard and have fun doing it." Manager John Farrell has seen Holt's confidence grow in his second season with the team. "Last year was his first year in the organization and I think he felt he was trying to get his feet on the ground here after the trade," Farrell said after Tuesday's game. "This year, he's come back a much more confident player, much like the player we traded for. He has played very well on both sides of the baseball and good at-bats here again tonight." Holt said that the familiarity with the organization has helped him play at a higher level this year and raise his confidence. "It's helped out a lot," Holt said. "Getting out to a good start in Pawtucket helped out a lot, too, but coming in and kind of knowing the guys and knowing the staff and my way around a little bit more this year has definitely helped out." Holt's two-hit performance Tuesday night is part of a growing file of reasons why the 25-year-old could stay with the Red Sox once Stephen Drew returns to the team. With Xander Bogaerts capable of filling in at shortstop when not starting at third, the value of Herrera's ability to man the position has been diminished. While playing very good defense at third base and demonstrating an improved approach at the plate, Holt is creating reasons for the Red Sox to keep him while also benefiting the infielder's mental state of mind. "Anytime you can go out and play and have a little bit of success, your confidence is going to grow," Holt said. "You're going to get that experience, and that's a big thing coming up, just getting used to playing at this level. So any time you can go out and do something, it helps." That being said, Holt is just trying to keep one thing in mind when he is playing now. "What I'm trying to do is go out and play relaxed and play the game like I'm capable of doing," Holt said. "I'm going to continue to do that and have fun doing it."