The Red Sox’ recall of Christian Vazquez from Triple-A Pawtucket brings into question Blake Swihart’s immediate role with the club, writes Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald. Vazquez is known to be an excellent defensive backstop, whereas there have been concerns with Swihart’s glove early this season. The team made veteran Ryan Hanigan available during Spring Training, he notes, but Swihart’s struggles might make it more difficult to part with a sturdy backup like Hanigan. Drellich explores the possibility of a position change for Swihart, whose bat is his best asset, although it’s not clear that the team has entertained any such notion at this time.
A couple more items pertaining to the AL East as teams gear up for their series…
- The Rays were confident that they could cure Hank Conger’s throwing woes when they acquired him from Houston this offseason, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, but Conger permitted five stolen bases in yesterday’s contest and is 0-for-7 in throwing out runners to begin the season. An 0-for-7 skid wouldn’t necessarily be an extreme concern for many catchers, but Conger threw out just one of 43 attempted base stealers last season and has now yielded 44 consecutive stolen bases. Manager Kevin Cash acknowledged that controlling the running game is an area in which Tampa Bay needs to improve, noting that he felt Chris Archer did a good job holding runners yesterday in spite of the barrage of steals. Conger’s sudden struggles are a bit curious, considering he threw out 35 of 145 runners (24 percent) with the Angels from 2012-14 before the issue arose. Conger does grade out as an excellent pitch framer, so if the Rays can improve his throwing, they’d have the makings of a very strong defensive backstop.
- Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun looks at what could be an unexpectedly crowded corner outfield situation for the Orioles now that Adam Jones is back in the lineup. Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard and veteran Nolan Reimold have hit well thus far, and Hyun Soo Kim remains on option despite limited playing time thus far. Jones and Mark Trumbo figure to be in there virtually every day (though Trumbo can DH against lefties in place of Pedro Alvarez), but there could indeed be a carousel of sorts to be managed by Buck Showalter. I don’t know that the logjam is as pronounced as it would appear, as Rickard’s early success doesn’t strike me as overly sustainable given his high BABIP and lack of hard contact. (As Meoli points out, he’s 4-for-20 after a fast start to the season.) The club will have to carry Rickard all year, though, to keep him, so he’ll have to get his share of playing time.