Red Sox manager John Farrell confirmed on WEEI’s Dale & Holley Show this afternoon that catcher A.J. Pierzynski has been designated for assignment.
Pierzynski batted .254 for the Red Sox in 72 games this season, swatting just four home runs to go with 30 RBIs, and he’s been slumping lately at the plate. A free agent entering the offseason, Pierzynski was inked to a one-year, $8.25 million deal in December.
Listening to Farrell, sounds like a youth movement is the direction the Sox are headed in.
“It’s at that point in the season that you start to look to invest in young players and look to take advantage of the games remaining for us and how we look to players that might be here beyond this season,” Farrell said. “And in that case it’s Christian Vazquez who is behind the plate tonight.”
Farrell said neither Pierzynski’s personality in the clubhouse — well known to be a bit prickly — or his relationship with pitchers factored into the decision to cut the veteran catcher.
“If you look at some of the performances of our pitchers that A.J. has handled — John Lackey has thrown very consistently, very well, we talked about Rubby De La Rosa, and as A.J.’s had some contributions in Rubby’s adjustments and performances that he’s had here, I would say yes, he has,” Farrell said. “So this has been a matter of us taking a look at, internally, what are the players who we are going to continue to build forward with and we started with what’s taking place behind the plate.”
Farrell sang the praises of Vazquez, the 23-year-old catcher from Puerto Rico.
“For those who have not seen Christian Vazquez, this is a compact, quick, exceptional throwing arm,” Farrell said. “He’s a shutdown catcher in terms of the running game. Over the past year and half, he’s really developed as far as the offensive side at the levels he’s been at. Is he going to be more of an impact defender at this point? Yes, with ability to handle the bat. And that means the ability to hit and run. He’s got some occasional power to his pull side. So this is an opportunity to take a look at a kid who could be a frontline catcher for a number of years in the big leagues.”
Best known for his defensive prowess, Vazquez has put up a .279/.336/.385 slash line with three home runs and 20 RBIs in 66 games with Triple-A Pawtucket this season.
Tonight, the Red Sox will be trotting out a young lineup featuring Brock Holt — who gets his first start at shortstop for the Sox, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Mookie Betts, and Vazquez:
1. Brock Holt (L) SS
2. Dustin Pedroia (R) 2B
3. David Ortiz (L) DH
4. Mike Napoli (R) 1B
5. Jonny Gomes (R) LF
6. Xander Bogaerts (R) 3B
7. Jackie Bradley Jr. (L) CF
8. Mookie Betts (R) RF
9. Christian Vazquez (R) C
Rubby De La Rosa takes the mound for the Sox tonight.