The Red Sox have a bit of a different look to the lineup today against Rays left-hander Erik Bedard. Brock Holt is leading off, playing first base. Milton, Mass., native Alex Hassan will make his major league debut, playing right field, batting sixth. And Jonathan Herrera is playing third, batting ninth.
It is Holt’s first professional game at first. He normally plays at third. But given the way he’s been hitting lately, the Red Sox will look for ways to keep him in the lineup.
In 21 games, Holt is batting .305, with a .352 on-base percentage, and .427 slugging percentage. He hit his first major league home run Saturday night.
In the lead-off spot he is batting .298/.314/.426. Against lefties his batting .317, first among all major league left-handed hitters, with a minimum of 25 at-bats.
“Brock being at first base is just expanding his flexibility,” said manager John Farrell. “Mike Carp is banged up. He’s been hit four times the past week with hit by pitches. Left-hander going today, has got Alex Hassan in right field. Pedey's good to go.
“We know that with Stephen drew to come to us here relatively soon, and the way 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.”
Holt has never played first base before at any level.
“We don’t feel it’s risky at all,” Farrell said. “He’s a good athlete. He’s 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.”
He just recently began getting pregame work at first base.
“It’s more about just getting some reps prior to fielding a throw across the diamond and that’s getting his bearings on where the bag is going to be as he’s making his way over there to anchor himself,” Farrell said. “So, yeah, a little bit of a crash course. But he’s a good athlete and a good player. Like I said, given where we are that’s the option today.”
And with Drew expected to join the Sox tomorrow, opportunities on the left side of the infield for Holt will become more scarce. He’s also begun working out in the outfield.
“We actually have him taking some balls off the bat during BP,” Farrell said. “Part of what we talked about his added versatility and creating options for him to stay on the field.”
Farrell was not certain who his lead-off batter would be when Holt is not in the lineup.
“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’s slotting Xander up a slot, and putting Pedey in the two hole, that’s one possibility. But what we’re trying to do is create that flexibility to keep Brock on the field as much as possible.”