Brock Holt was named to the American League All-Star team on Monday. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

John Farrell: Attitude, versatility make Brock Holt an All-Star

July 07, 2015 - 7:30 pm
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The big piece in the trade was going to be Joel Hanrahan. Back in December 2012, the Red Sox sent pitchers Mark Melancon and Stomly Pimentel to the Pirates along with infielder Ivan De Jesus and utility man Jerry Sands in exchange for a two-time All-Star closer in Hanrahan and Brock Holt, a 24-year-old infielder with a hot bat and an All-Star minor league pedigree. Hanrahan made nine appearances for the Sox in the 2013 season before sustaining an elbow injury in early May, ending his season. Holt appeared in just 26 contests that year, slashing .203/.275/.237 as a third baseman who got a handful of looks at second. Hanrahan was released after the season ended, but Holt still hangs around Fenway and has a trip to Cincinnati scheduled next week to represent the Sox at the All-Star Game. He didn't make an immediate impact in 2014, not seeing time until he was called up from Pawtucket 16 games into the season. He played seven straight for the Red Sox before being back sent down to Triple-A. After that, he earned his keep as a regular in the Sox lineup, providing a type of energy and durable style of play that took him on a tour of positions three through nine. If it didn't take place on the mound or behind the plate, Holt had a go at it. "Because of injuries last year, just threw him in the situation of, 'What do you think about playing left field?'" manager John Farrell said. "Don't you know the first hitter of the game hits a sinking line drive, he dives for and makes the catch. Whether or not that was some instant belief that he could play an outfield position, but what we've seen is all three have been played extremely well. How he's been able to stay sharp and get enough work to feel comfortable enough in a major league game to go to  those positions is really what stands out." But it's not just Holt's ability to pick up new positions with ease that makes him such a valuable player, according to Farrell. It's his demeanor and overall approach to taking on new endeavors on the field. "Because of that he wasn't concerned about being embarrassed defensively when he went to new positions for the first time and the first time at the major league level," he said. "To me, his attitude is the thing that stands out and is so significant while being so successful in the role." The second baseman, going into Tuesday was batting .295 so far this season with a .383 on-base percentage and a .424 slugging percentage, with just under a third of his hits going for extra bases. He also added an impressive feat to his resume when on June 16 he hit for the cycle in a 9-4 win against the Braves. Farrell said he was given a heads up about Holt's selection late last week and Sunday, following the Red Sox' 5-4 victory over the Astros, he let his player know that a trip to the All-Star Game was in his immediate future. "Obviously he quickly lit up," Farrell said. "I would think a flash of all that has gone on in his time here in Boston went through his mind. But, to a man downstairs, I think every guy is extremely happy for Brock to see the way he's played the game." Holt, who has again worked his way around the field this season, has a flexibility that gives the Sox multiple options within a game -- night in-and-night out, acting as a "safety valve" if needed. "When we've gone with a three-man bench, it's like you've got two or three players with Brock," Farrell said. "You can't place a value or a price tag on that." Similarly, with Holt on the All-Star Team, Royals manager and American League manager Ned Yost will have the chance to work with the options Farrell does every night. "Having been in that position where you've got a roster or a lineup voted in by the fans, one that's voted by the coaches and players, you've got probably two guys at every position," Farrell said. "To have that one player that can go anywhere in the event of a pinch-hit, pinch-run, and injury, it's one of the main reasons Brock is on that team."

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