BOSTON — Red Sox Manager John Farrell saw how well Deven Marrero’s glove played in the spring. It was not hard to picture Marrero wowing the Fenway Park crowd with his range, quick glove and strong arm.
Farrell could imagine it.
“As a defender, yes, right now,” Farrell said Wednesday before the Red Sox game with the Cubs. Marrero wasn’t here, but he is a step closer.
Marrero, 23, the Red Sox’s first-round draft pick in 2012, was promoted Wednesday from the Sea Dogs to Triple-A Pawtucket. He started for the PawSox, singling in his first at-bat. He finished the game 2 for 4.
The fact Marrero is hitting is very good news to a Boston team looking for stability at shortstop.
The Red Sox say they still consider Xander Bogaerts a shortstop, even though the late signing of Stephen Drew interrupted that process.
But Bogaerts’ play at third has been solid, and Marrero could be the long-term solution at short. He is as good as Jose Iglesias, traded to the Tigers last year, with better offense.
Coming into this season, Marrero had a .258 average over 1½ pro seasons. But Marrero’s bat finally emerged with the Sea Dogs. When he was promoted he was batting .291 (.371 on-base percentage) with 19 doubles (fifth-best in the Eastern League), two triples and five home runs.
“The development needs were still on the offensive side,” Farrell said. “Clearly that has taken place the first half of the season in Portland.”
And now it’s on to Pawtucket. One step away.
ANTHONY RIZZO was once a big Red Sox prospect, playing first base for the Sea Dogs in 2010. He was promoted to Portland when he was 20 and batted .263, blasting 20 home runs in 107 games. Some of those shots landed in Fitzpatrick Stadium.
The best time to watch Rizzo was during batting practice when he swatted offerings from pitching coach Bob Kipper, who often stopped to watch Rizzo’s balls sail out of Hadlock Field.
Rizzo remembers. “Tell (Kipper) I still have his rookie card,” Rizzo said.
While his Sea Dogs days “seem like a long time ago,” Rizzo said, “you don’t forget what it takes to get here.”
For Rizzo, it took development in the Boston system and a few trades. Boston traded Rizzo after that 2010 season to the Padres in the Adrian Gonzalez deal.
San Diego gave Rizzo a try in the majors (.141 average and one home run in 49 games), then shipped him to the Cubs after the 2011 season. Rizzo has steadily improved. He entered Wednesday’s game with a .279 average and 17 home runs, tied for third in the National League.
“It’s mostly about solidifying my approach,” Rizzo said.
The Cubs like the approach, signing him through 2019 with options for 2020 and 2021.
PITCHER CASEY Kelly was sent with Rizzo to the Padres in the Gonzalez deal. Kelly, 24, the Sea Dogs’ pitcher of the year in 2010, is Rizzo’s best friend. He’s also trying to get back to the majors after missing 2013 because of Tommy John surgery, and is rehabbing in the minors.
MOOKIE BETTS kept busy during Boston’s batting practice, and not just in the batting cage. Betts was in center field getting reads on every ball hit. The term for that is “power shagging.”
Occasionally Betts checked in with coach Arnie Beyeler.
“The biggest thing is getting reps in a place you’re really not comfortable with,” Beyeler said.
Betts, of course, is an infielder. But like Brock Holt before him, Betts moved to the outfield to get his bat into the lineup.
“The biggest example we have is Brock. He’s bounced around and used his athletic ability. He just plays the game,” Beyeler said.
“Guys who have instincts and baseball ability, they’ll keep getting better. Hopefully we put them in the right spot and they catch up with the ball and hit the cutoff man.”
XANDER BOGAERTS is still in the infield, although he would like to be batting better (.245 before Wednesday’s game).
“He is working on some things – keeping his balance rather than lunging. Those are the things that will start showing up in games,” Farrell said, adding that the staff has faith in him. “We will continue to have him in the lineup.”
Farrell appeared surprised when he was asked about the possibility of sending Bogaerts to the minor leagues in an effort to regroup.
“We haven’t even considered that,” Farrell said.