Red Sox not losing faith in Blake Swihart despite latest injury

Dan Shulman
July 20, 2017 - 1:22 pm
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It’s been a rough two years for Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart. Not only has one of the club’s top prospects failed to make an impact at the big league level, but the backstop has been plagued by various injuries.

His most recent setback concerned his surgically repaired left ankle, which has landed Swihart on the disabled list once again. Because playing catcher aggravated the ankle, the 25-year-old will once again be looking at a change of position, with first and third options.

"The volume is starting to irritate it to the point where he needed the time down,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “It's more because of what he's currently experiencing. I can't say long-term he'll never be able to catch regularly. He's still probably going to catch three days a week, so it's not like you got to take that position away completely.”

Swihart injured his ankle when he awkwardly ran into the wall in left field at Fenway Park, ending his 2016 season. He had switched to left field because of a logjam at catcher that included Christian Vazquez, Ryan Hanigan, and Sandy Leon.

The move to the outfield, which was not an easy switch, was an option Farrell had no problem exploring.

"We're talking about a very good athlete here,” Farrell said. “We had no problem moving him to left field last year. As an amateur, he played all over the field, so we're tapping back into that.”

The past couple seasons have taken a toll on Swihart, who has experienced various stints on the DL playing one of the most physically demanding positions on the field.

“He's had a hand issue, he's had a collision, a foul ball, physically he's had a rough two years,” Farrell said. “Even going back to two years ago when we were in Kansas City, he slides into third base and ends up with a hairline fracture in his foot that time. He's been banged up.”

When he returns to full health, Swihart will begin playing both first and third base for Triple-A Pawtucket.

"That's where the versatility is being explored here," Farrell said. "Provided he's hitting, his bat will always force his way into the lineup. If there are physical limitations to the catching position then we will have to expose him and create the versatility as we've done with other guys to make him a fit on the roster."

Swihart's future remains uncertain.

"The remaining 6-7 weeks of the season are pivotal given that he's out of options," Farrell said. "And more than anything getting him back on the field regularly to where the at-bats can be had. It wouldn't be surprising if he had some time in winter ball where compiling at-bats is more important."