Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reports that the agent of utilityman Blake Swihart, Brodie Scoffield of The Legacy Agency, has requested the Red Sox trade his client so he can get playing time elsewhere. Scoffield said, “We’ve had conversations with the team, and they’re aware of how we feel. Blake’s in a really difficult position. We’ve got a switch-hitter, offensive impact player, and his bat deserves a chance to be in the lineup.” He added, “I don’t think we’re building any time of trade value, nor helping him progress as a ballplayer, nor is the team really being served by him in this role.”
Swihart, 26, was once a consensus top-100 prospect in baseball as a catcher. While he has spent a majority of his major league career behind the plate, he has spent only one inning there this season with the other 23 coming in left field (19) and first base (four). The Red Sox have gotten a combined .444 OPS from catchers Sandy Leon (.464) and Christian Vazquez (.435). Swihart has started in only four of his team’s 43 games this season.
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski views Swihart as “protection for us as a third catcher.” He said, “…the reality is, your 25th player usually doesn’t play that much anyway, really.”
As Drellich points out, Swihart hasn’t been asked to pinch-hit since APril 27 and hasn’t pinch-run since April 5. It makes sense that Scoffield would pursue a trade for his client, as his situation in Boston is not making much sense.
Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.
This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.
Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.
Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.