Blake Swihart

John Farrell on playing Blake Swihart vs. Phillies: 'This isn't a showcase'

John Tomase
March 15, 2015 - 9:45 am

It was hard not to see the obvious storyline when catcher Blake Swihart made the trip to Clearwater this morning for a game against the Phillies -- he's being dangled in person as trade bait for left-hander Cole Hamels. "I think it's funny, just like when you guys came over you started laughing," Swihart told reporters. "I think people are reading into it. It's going to be fun." But Red Sox manager John Farrell wanted to make one thing clear. "This isn't a showcase," Farrell said. The manager explained Swihart's presence in decidedly uncontroversial terms. "So, Blake's here because of the rotation that we've been looking for with position players the last 4-5 days," he said. "Get them a couple of games back-to-back, and his second day falls on today." That will do little to quell the conspiracy theorists who want to see the team trade a package of prospects including Swihart for Hamels, the three-time All-Star and 2008 World Series MVP who would immediately give the Red Sox a proven ace atop their rotation. "The most I got yesterday was a tweet saying, 'Hmmm, Blake Swihart is playing against the Phillies,'" Swihart said.  "That was the craziest thing." The only problem with viewing Swihart as trade bait is that it ignores the fact the Red Sox have little inclination in dealing the switch hitter, who might be the best catching prospect in baseball. He has made real strides this camp, Farrell said. "He's more comfortable with the environment, which you would expect," Farrell said. "A guy in his second year is a little bit more of a known on his behalf, what he's coming into. He spent some time in Triple A last year, so he knows in his own mind that his opportunity is approaching. When that happens, obviously, it remains to be seen. I just think he's gaining confidence, he's gaining strength. Last year's experience at the Triple A level was important with him in dealing with some veteran pitchers and getting some more insight into game-calling. There's always going to be maintenance. The receiving side of things is a work in progress that's getting better by the day. He's a bright-looking young player, but there's still work to be done." Swihart takes the trade talk in stride. "It's kind of hard not to hear it," he said. "At the end of the day, though, I play for the Red Sox and I want to play for the Red Sox. I like being here and I like playing here. It's an honor that other teams think highly of you. Ultimately, I want to be here and to play for this team. Anything I can do to help this team is what I want to do."