Blake Swihart won’t be making any appearances in left field during the 2017 season, per a report from Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. In fact, the only place the Red Sox want to see him is behind the plate.
The 24-year-old will compete against fellow catchers Sandy Leon and Christian Vasquez for a starting role during spring training. He was named the Opening Day catcher in 2016, but was demoted within the month and moved to left field upon his return to the majors in late May. His season came to a premature end in early June after Swihart suffered a severe left ankle sprain on a bad outfield catch.
Despite the uncertainty around Boston’s catching situation in 2017, one thing remains clear: they don’t want to part with any of their three backstops, at least for the time being. The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro revealed that the Diamondbacks had asked about Swihart and Vasquez, but were told that the Red Sox were unwilling to deal either catcher this offseason. None of Boston’s young catchers have proven track records behind the plate just yet, and until they do, it makes sense for the club to keep their options open as they head into 2017.
Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.
The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.
Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.
As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:
Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.
Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.
Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.