C.J. Chatham reached out and sent a soft liner to right field Thursday night for the Portland Sea Dogs’ first hit of the season. Chatham went 1 for 4 in a 4-0 loss to Reading at Hadlock Field while manning shortstop all night.

Chatham, 24, the No. 9 prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization, will get plenty of playing time this season.

But as for playing shortstop at Fenway Park? The odds are against it, which has nothing to do with Chatham’s ability. The Red Sox thought enough of his talent to draft him in the second round in 2016, signing him to a $1.1 million bonus.

But Boston already has a shortstop, Xander Bogaerts, who just signed a $120 million extension through 2025.

“That’s the business,” Chatham said. “I thought about (the ramifications) immediately … I’d love to play for (the Red Sox), whether it be at a different position, or anything … but you just never know.”

Chatham, who is 6-foot-4, 181 pounds, can play other positions. He began his college career at third base for Florida Atlantic and played left field on his summer youth team in southwest Florida, where Luis Guillorme of the New York Mets was the shortstop.

But for now, Chatham is in Portland as a shortstop – and a good one.

“I think his defense totally improved,” said Sea Dogs Manager Joe Oliver, who had Chatham in Class A Salem last year. “He’s more consistent with handling the ball and throwing the ball.”

Oliver reached out to Chatham soon after the news of Bogaerts’ extension.

“You can’t worry about what’s going on in Boston. You take care of what’s here in Portland,” Oliver said. “Crazy things can happen.”

In 1989, Oliver was a 23-year-old minor league catcher with the Reds. Cincinnati had a veteran catcher, Bo Diaz, who underwent minor knee surgery in July. Oliver was called up to fill in temporarily.

“But Diaz never came back (from the surgery, eventually retiring). I stayed. So you never know,” Oliver said.

Barring an injury to Bogaerts, Chatham eventually will change positions or organizations. There are no sour grapes.

“He’s obviously an unbelievable player so it wasn’t like I took it as a slap in the face,” Chatham said. “They got (Bogaerts) at the right price and they want to lock him up. I understand.”

Bogaerts is Boston’s first franchise shortstop since Nomar Garciaparra (1996-2004). Back in 2002, the Red Sox had a 24-year-old shortstop in Double-A named Freddy Sanchez. He got a few major league cups of coffee at short and third, then was traded to Pittsburgh in a 2003 deadline deal for pitcher Jeff Suppan.

Suppan struggled and failed to make the postseason roster; Sanchez won the National League batting title in 2006.

If Chatham shines this season, he could find himself part of a deal by the Red Sox. It’s all part of the business.

“I love the organization but you’re also playing for other teams,” Chatham said. “If (other teams) want me as a shortstop …”

Chatham’s pro career got off to a slow start. In his first season, in 2017, a strained left hamstring developed into a lingering injury that limited him to seven games.

“Initially we thought it was something small but it turned out to be bigger,” he said. “It just never really fully healed at the time. But now I’ve been 100 percent for the last year.”

Chatham showed what he could do when healthy, earning a quick promotion to Salem, where he batted .315. That prompted Boston to invite him to major league spring training this year.

“It was an awesome experience getting to play with those guys, especially Bogaerts,” Chatham said. “To see him up close and personal, and how he goes about his work. Hopefully it rubbed off and I can do some of the same things he did.”

Who knows where Chatham will be able to do that?

“Just go out there and do my best,” he said. “That’s all I can control.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-7411 or:
[email protected]
Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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