Lessons learned: The man who was Michael Chavis

Rob Bradford
April 30, 2019 - 2:26 pm

With each passing day, Will Middlebrooks' name is resurfaced in the Red Sox media notes.

After Monday night's game, this was the nugget: "The last Red Sox hitters with eight or more RBI in their first nine career games were Will Middlebrooks in 2012 (11) and Morgan Burkhart in 2000 (11)."

For this Middlebrooks can thank Michael Chavis.

The former Red Sox infielder can relate to what Chavis is experiencing more than most, having been summoned to the big leagues for the first time a whole lot faster than most anticipated. In Middlebrooks case his call came May 2, 2012, a night in which the third baseman lived up to his hype with two hits and a stolen base against Oakland. From then on, he was on his way, serving as the team's starting third baseman up until an August injury.

Middlebrooks first nine games were remarkably similar to what Chavis has experienced to date, hitting .282 with a .958 OPS and three homers. Chavis? Through nine contests he's batting .286 with a 1.071 OPS and an identical three home runs.

So it would seem that Middlebrooks might have the best perspective on what Chavis is dealing with, and what awaits the rookie as this season unfolds. In a question and answer via email with WEEI.com this is what the now-retired infielder passed along:

What do you remember about those first few weeks in the majors? What are some of the initial adjustments a guy like Chavis has to make both on and off the field in this first week or so?

The first couple of weeks being in the show were honestly a blur, as I’m sure just about every young kid that gets called up will tell you. Dream come true, blah blah blah. You just want to leave your mark bc you don’t want to get sent back down. Being in the big leagues is baseball heaven and you don’t ever want to go back to where you came from. So first off the best thing you can do to help everything slow down, is try your best to keep the same routine you had in Triple A. Now, that’s tough to do. For one, you’re spending a lot more time at the part. You’re the young guy so being one of the first there and last to leave is always a good look. With a team like the Sox, there are a ton of people to watch and mimic during all those hours you’re at the park. So pay attention to (Dustin) Pedroia. He’s a pro’s pro. As good as it gets. The guy never lets off the gas. He’s earned everything he has. Follow that guy. That’s my biggest advice."

What would you credit your early success to? Were you surprised by it?

I credit my early success to working my ass off. Rarely is anyone accidentally successful at the highest level of any job. I had great veterans who pointed me in the right direction and guided me. And to answer your question ... no. I wasn’t surprised at all. I would have been pissed if that hadn’t been the result. Every ballplayer expects greatness out of themselves. That’s what we all work towards. If you don’t, well, maybe try something else to do for a living. 

What was it like being a rookie being dropped onto a team so early in the year (and being counted on so much)?

I didn’t feel like I had any pressure to carry that team. I had no reason to think that. All I had to do was look around the locker room. David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, Cody Ross, Jared Saltalamacchia, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford. I mean, c'mon man, I was surrounded by studs. I was just another puzzle piece to that team. 

What overall advice would you give Chavis?

So, overall advice? Hmm. Don’t take one thing for granted. Not a single thing. Because when it’s gone it’s gone. Love and enjoy your teammates. You’re surrounded by some of the best players in the world and guess what, you’re one of them kid! Believe in your abilities day in and day out and never, ever let off the gas. Play this game like you know someone is coming for your job and today could be the last time you ever put on a big league uniform. 

Oh, and one more thing. When you step out on the field at Fenway take a look around. Smell it. Listen to it. Look at it. The history of players that have stood exactly where you are standing is second to none. You’ll never experience a better place to play baseball. No better fans, no better city, definitely no better place to be. So truly be in the moment."

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