Thursday notes: Jonathan Herrera wins utility job, Brock Holt, Rubby De La Rosa sent to minors, Brandon Snyder reassigned

Mike Petraglia
March 20, 2014 - 12:54 pm

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jonathan Herrera will be the Red Sox utility infielder to start the 2014 season. In a move that was expected, the Red Sox optioned infielder Brock Holt and pitcher Rubby De La Rosa to their minor league camp Thursday while reassigning infielder Brandon Snyder, who was in camp on a minor league deal and doesn't have to be designated off the 40-man roster. With Thursday's moves, the Red Sox now have 40 players in big league camp, including 31 players from the 40-man roster, and nine non-roster invitees. The decision to award Herrera the job was based on the solid and versatile play he displayed while playing shortstop, third base and second base through camp. But it was Herrera's advanced play at short that was the key determining factor. "Prioritizing shortstop play, and while Brock has made strides on the left side of the infield, particularly from the start of last year, we felt with the acquisition of Jonathan there was more middle-of-the-field experience and that's the choice made," manager John Farrell said in making the announcement before the game with the Yankees. The 29-year-old Herrera was acquired on Dec. 18 for pitcher Franklin Morales and minor-league pitcher Chris Martin as the Red Sox eyed a veteran insurance policy in the middle of their infield with Stephen Drew's uncertain future hanging over their offseason plans. "His instincts inside the game," Farrell said of Herrera, who played his first six seasons with the Rockies. "You get a two-to-three game glimpse across the field. But when you're in camp with someone in camp for a month and a half, you get more of a sense of their instincts and how they react and respond to game situations and the energy he brings. It's a good fit." The Venezuelan was 8-for-29 (.276) in 13 games entering Thursday's contest against the Yankees at JetBlue Park. Herrera was penciled in as the starting third baseman against the Bombers. As for Holt, he will likely get plenty of infield reps with Triple-A Pawtucket for the rest of the spring and start the season with the PawSox. He was 7-for-27 (.259) in 12 games with a home run. Red Sox manager John Farrell said De La Rosa will begin the season in the starting rotation for the PawSox. De La Rosa had more growing pains this spring, getting knocked around for 13 hits and six earned runs in 7 1/3 innings in four appearances this spring. "The biggest difference is there are no restrictions, as was last year when in the month of April it was no more than three inning, 50 pitches," Farrell said. "Those restrictions are taken off him. The last two times out, there's been a couple of adjustments made, one to his delivery, one where we take him from a full delivery to one where he keeps his hands in front of his chest. We also started to add a little bit more of a curveball to the mix to give him a little bit more of an offspeed pitch. We feel those two adjustments will help him not only command his fastball better but give him some offspeed to attack a given hitter with. With Rubby, it's not a matter of stuff but better location." Farrell also announced that they are still closely monitoring the situation with knuckleballer Steven Wright, coming off a sports hernia operation in the offseason. "We had a chance to talk with Steven Wright just because of his recovery from the groin [sports hernia] surgery," Farrell said. "We're just working through a number of roster moves here." Wright has yet to appear in a spring training game as he remains on the 40-man roster. Other notes and quotes from John Farrell on Thursday:

  • While not officially announcing the opening day starter March 31 in Baltimore, Farrell hinted that barring injury, Jon Lester is lined up to start the first game of the season against the Orioles: "We haven't announced it but we've set up a rotation to reflect our thoughts and our plan going forward. We've held off announcing anything in the event something doesn't pan out from a health standpoint but everybody is doing great, health-wise." Lester would be followed by John Lackey, Felix Doubront, Jake Peavy and Clay Buchholz. Peavy started Wednesday against Pittsburgh, Buchholz starts against the Yankees on Thursday and Jon Lester will take the hill on the road on Friday in Clearwater against the Phillies, giving him one more start before taking the mound on March 31.
  • Grady Sizemore will play in a minor league game Saturday before playing on Sunday and Monday while David Ross will stay back Friday to play in a minor league game: "David Ross will get at-bats [Friday] in a minor league game. End of last week, he got five at-bats one day so we're making the most of the opportunities on the other side.
  • The Red Sox won't be running the risk of another fine for not sending enough regulars on their extended spring road trip through Clearwater on Friday and Lake Buena Vista on Saturday. A.J. Pierzynski, a resident of Orlando, will make the trip and play both games. Lester will start Friday while John Lackey gets the call on Saturday. Dustin Pedroia (Sat.), Shane Victorino (Sat.), Jackie Bradley Jr. (Fri. and Sat.), Xander Bogaerts (Sat.), Will Middlebrooks (Sat.), Jonny Gomes (Fri) and Mike Napoli (Sat.) are among those expected to see action between the two games. David Ortiz will not be making the trip.
  • Bradley escaped any serious injury after getting his right thumb spiked by Will Middlebrooks Wednesday: "There's no injury updates of really any kind for anybody. He clipped it on a spike in that rundown but he's fine."
  • Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara threw live BP to Pierzynski Thursday and came through well. Both are expected to get back into a minor league game on Saturday: "They were originally scheduled for a bullpen and felt like with the number of pitches they've thrown to hitters, they wanted to see hitters in the box and just more of a work day, little bit more of an intense work day than just a bullpen."