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Taking a deeper look at Lavarnway

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  September 19, 2012 12:13 PM

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. With the Red Sox out of contention, our plan for the next few weeks will be to trim down stories on the games and focus more on larger issues such as the development of Ryan Lavarnway.

As the piece mentioned, Lavarnway has caught 100 games this season, the last 20 with the Red Sox after 80 with Triple A Pawtucket.

Down the road, that number will not seem like a big deal. But it's worth noting that Lavarnway's previous high was 66 for Single A Greenville in 2009.

Those extra 34 games behind the plate were something his body had to get used to. That likely has something to do with Lavarnway hitting .170/.237/.283 in 118 plate appearances with the Sox this season.

But when you speak to scouts, teammates and Red Sox coaches, there's unanimity in the idea that Lavarnway will hit at the major league level. He has a .376 OBP in the minors over parts of five seasons and that's not a fluke.

Lavarnway is a righthanded hitter with pop. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a switch hitter, is better lefthanded. So maybe there's merit to having them in a platoon of sorts next season. Or perhaps using Salty as a catcher, occasional first baseman and occasional DH.

Even if David Ortiz returns and odds are that he will he will be 37 and need days off.

A scenario where Lavarnway catches, say, 52 games and Saltalamacchia 110 could make sense to the Red Sox.

What is certain is that Lavarnway seems ready for prime time. The only question now is where he fits.

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