PAWTUCKET – It is easy to think of the word “dominance” when considering Ryan Lavarnway’s start in Triple-A Pawtucket.

Through Friday, Lavarnway has played 35 games in Triple-A. He’s batting .381 (51 of 134) with 13 home runs and 36 RBI. His on-base percentage is .450. Put that with his .769 slugging average and the OPS is 1.219.

But Lavarnway is not thinking dominance. He is thinking “education,” like any good Yale man. Lavarnway knows he has learning to do.

“For me the biggest thing has been pitch sequencing — the way they’re trying to get you out,” said Lavarnway, who is a prime Red Sox pupil because he works the count until he gets a pitch he can drive.

Pitch sequencing is also helping Lavarnway defensively. He’s learning more and more how to call a game.

“It’s the same with my pitchers, with the way we want to gets guys out,” he said.

Lavarnway has been working with veteran pitchers like Kevin Millwood and Brandon Duckworth.

“They helped guide me through the first starts,” lavarnway said. 

THE EVENTUAL CALL for Lavarnway to reach the major leagues is now a question of when, not if. The Red Sox could use a right-handed power bat. He seems a certain candidate for a call-up when major league rosters expand in September.

But if Boston wants Lavarnway as an option for the playoff roster, he would have to be added to the 40-man roster before September, which means another player would have to be taken off (designated for assignment). Playoff teams often carry an extra batter because fewer pitchers are needed. 

THE 40-MAN ROSTER seems so big because it includes the major league roster plus 15 more players. But teams run out of room in a hurry.

Even if Lavarnway isn’t called up and added to the 40-man in September, he would have to be added in the offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, when eligible players can be taken by other teams if they are not protected on the 40-man roster.

In addition to Lavarnway, Sea Dogs catcher Tim Federowicz and third baseman Will Middlebrooks would be eligible for the Rule 5 draft if they aren’t added to the 40-man roster after the season. All three will be protected.

The two Taiwanese outfielders, Che-Hsuan Lin and Chih-Hsien Chiang, would also be eligible for the Rule 5 draft. But will there be room for them on the 40-man roster? 

TOMMY HOTTOVY enjoyed status on both the 40-man and major league rosters recently, until he was designated for assignment.

It’s been a whirlwind year for Hottovy, who began the season in Portland, moved to Pawtucket, then spent most of June in the majors as Boston’s lefty specialist.

But Hottovy was sent down when lefty Franklin Morales came off the disabled list. And when Boston wanted to promote another lefty, Randy Williams, and needed to add him to the 40-man roster, Hottovy was designated for assignment.

The DFA process allows other teams to make a claim on a player. If no claims are made, the player has the option of staying with his current organization on a minor league contract.

Hottovy, 30, reported back to Pawtucket on Thursday.

If there is a bright side, the DFA process gave Hottovy more time at home in Kansas City, with his wife Andrea and newborn son Cameron, who was delivered July 14.

Hottovy went home before the All-Star break to be present for the delivery. The DFA process allowed him to stay an extra four days.

Hottovy strolled through the Pawtucket clubhouse Thursday, showing off a picture of Cameron on his cellphone. 

WITH HIS NEW status, Hottovy will be a minor league free agent at the end of the year, the same status as last year, when he re-signed with Boston.

Some other prospective minor league free agents include outfielder Daniel Nava (also designated for assignment this year), infielder Nate Spears, and relievers Jason Rice, Blake Maxwell and Kyle Fernandes. 

THE QUESTION OF the week involves Chiang, Middlebrooks and Sea Dogs outfielder Alex Hassan. When will they be promoted to Pawtucket?

Chiang was batting .331 through Thursday, with 17 home runs and 70 RBI. His Eastern League-leading OPS was 1.036. This is his second season in Portland.

Hassan leads the league with a .430 on-base percentage. He was batting .304 with a .889 OPS. Hassan works counts so well against Double-A pitchers.

Middlebrooks was hitting .310, with 12 home runs and 56 RBI. Along with his play at third base, Middlebrooks is emerging as one of the top non-pitching prospects for the Red Sox. 

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: ClearTheBases