Red Sox pregame notes vs. Rays: Brock Holt prepares for superutility role, Mike Napoli on track to return Sunday in Detroit

June 01, 2014 - 9:47 am
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Among the starting infielders for Sunday's series finale against the Rays, Xander Bogaerts is the outlier. Jonathan Herrera, Brock Holt and Dustin Pedroia all stand in today's infield at an average height of 5-foot-9, playing third, first and second base respectively. With Bogaerts as the only infielder standing above six feet tall, manager John Farrell was amused by the size, or the lack thereof, of Sunday's starting infield. "Three of the guys in the infield might not be able to get on rides at Six Flags," Farrell mused. For the first time this season, Herrera, Holt, Pedroia and Bogaerts will compose the infield for the Red Sox on Sunday. Holt makes his first major league start at first base, a position he has never played before. Pedroia, who sat out Saturday due to a right hand contusion, is back to full strength with no limitations. Holt was seen working with third base coach Brian Butterfield and first baseman Mike Napoli before the game working on footwork around the base, scooping balls in the dirt and receiving throws from infielders. Farrell says that moving Holt to first base is an attempt to expand his versatility. "With Stephen Drew to come to us here relatively soon and the way that Brock has solidified the leadoff spot and handled the bat, we're finding ways to keep him on the field and keep his bat in the lineup," Farrell said. "We don't feel it's risky at all [starting him at first base]. He's a good athlete, a good infielder. Granted, there's been no experience at the position, but given where we are, we're not hesitant to put him there." Holt, who borrowed Alex Hassan's glove to man first base, believes that his work at second and third base will help him translate to first base. "A ground ball is a ground ball," Farrell said. "You just have to catch it. Obviously, you don't have to make the long throw across the diamond like you are at third or short, but get your body in front of it, get your body down and beat your body to the base or get it to the pitcher covering." Farrell said that Holt took a crash course from Butterfield in the morning leading up to the game on Sunday. "It's more about just getting some reps prior to fielding a throw across the diamond," Farrell said. "That's getting his bearings on where the bag is going to be as he is making his way over there to anchor himself. So, a little bit of a crash course, but he's a good athlete and a good player and like I said, given where we are, that's the option today." OTHER RED SOX NOTES: -- Farrell will look to find a new leadoff hitter when Drew returns and Holt's playing time becomes more sporadic. The skipper is looking at Bogaerts as someone who could slide up a spot in the order to fill that need. "I don't know that we have an announcement to make on who that would be, but there's a couple of things that are being looked at," Farrell said. "Whether or not that is slotting Xander up a slot and [Pedroia] in the two whole, that's one possibility. What we're trying to do is trying to create that flexibility to keep Brock on the field as much as possible." -- Napoli is on track to return to the team next Sunday when the team visits Detroit. "He'll go through the sim game [Monday] in Cleveland," Farrell said. "We feel like with three to four days of live BP on the field, he's feeling like he's turning the corner with a lot of the ailments he was dealing with." -- Shane Victorino is starting to run the bases, but no timetable has been set for the outfielder to make his return. -- Clay Buchholz will throw a simulated game on Monday. -- Felix Doubront has thrown two bullpens, but the team has not yet planned a rehab stint for the lefty yet. -- Will Middlebrooks will soon return to baseball activities. Middlebrooks has nearly regained full range of motion with his right index finger fracture.

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