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It's time to start paying attention to Sam Travis

Rob Bradford
May 26, 2018 - 4:18 pm

Remember Sam Travis? He was the guy who absolutely tore up the Grapefruit League (again), hitting six home runs while jumping on the launch angle bandwagon.

But as the 2018 season unfurled itself in April and early May, Travis was becoming a forgotten man. The Red Sox already had too many first basemen and the Pawtucket Red Sox righty hitter wasn't exactly pushing the big league envelope. Travis started slow, went on the disabled list at the end of April for an intercostal strain, and has been trying to find his swing ever since.

Now we should start talking about him again.

With Hanley Ramirez exiting the organization, the Red Sox are left with one true first baseman, Mitch Moreland, with utilitymen Brock Holt and Blake Swihart serving as the backups. If Moreland goes down, Travis is the next available pure first baseman.

Considering the flashes Travis has shown heading into this season, such a succession might seem logical. The 24-year-old's existence since we last checked in, however, has gotten a bit complicated.

Heading into Saturday, Travis was hitting .223 with three homers and a .642 OPS, having gone 5-for-56 with 29 strikeouts. That's the bad news. (Some scouts believe he has sacrificed his trademark hard contact by constantly trying to elevate the baseball.) The good news is that just hours after Ramirez was designated for assignment, he did hit a home run to rekindle some optimism.

Talking to the first baseman earlier in the week, Travis certainly thinks he has learned his lessons and was primed to return to the major league conversation.

"I show up, look at the lineup and let’s go. New day, let’s go," said the always intense Travis. "You just have to keep going. You can’t dwell on the past. You can’t [expletive] relish in it. You have to want more. Everybody keeps getting better and if you’re content with where you’re at people are going to surpass you. So you have to want more."

So, what has he improved on during this run of hardships?

"Focusing on the right now," Travis said. "Last year, getting called up and coming back down I was trying to do too much. I have to control on what I can control. I have to focus on what I can do to help the team win, and everything else will take care of itself."

It's not overstating things to suggest that the coming months will be of the utmost of importance when it comes to Travis' existence with the Red Sox. Obviously, the team would need a viable first base option if anything were to happen to Moreland. And, also, Double-A first baseman Josh Ockimey is starting to nip at the heels of Travis in the organization's depth chart. The 22-year-old is hitting .274 with a .856 OPS and five homers for Portland.

Moreland. Injury. Launch angle. Ockimey. Travis understands none of them can compare to what he is making his true priority -- rediscovering the stroke that put him in the first base conversation to begin with.

"That’s why the best way to go about it is to not look at your own numbers or anybody else’s number. You don’t worry about the past. You focus on the right now and let the rest take care of itself," he said. "I'm pretty solid at that. It’s definitely not easy to do, but that’s the way it’s got to be. But that’s what it’s going to take, so whatever it takes I’ll do."

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