Michael Chavis, right, had played only five games at second base before being called up to the majors. He’s played 10 games at second so far for the Boston Red Sox. AP Photo/Jeff Haynes

BOSTON – The focus in and around the batting cage is the same. But instead of launching balls over one Monster toward I-295 in Portland, Michael Chavis is sending them over another, to Lansdowne Street in Boston.

And he does launch them, a long way.

Chavis, 23, entertained Portland Sea Dogs fans for parts of the past two seasons. He not only put on shows in batting practice but hit 20 home runs in 100 games, many of them of the no-doubt kind, sailing over Hadlock Field’s Maine Monster in left field.

The Red Sox promoted Chavis to the major leagues from Triple-A Pawtucket on April 19. In only 14 games he has six home runs – including three of the longest by Boston batters this year. His blast Friday night at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago was the longest – an estimated 459 feet. The ball came off his bat at 110 mph.

“He’s a guy who knows exactly what he wants to do, especially offensively,” said Carlos Febles, the Sea Dogs’ manager in 2017 and now Boston’s third-base coach.

What Chavis wants is to be a big leaguer, for a long time. “That’s the goal, right?” he said. But Chavis knows he’s with Boston right now because of injuries – to Dustin Pedroia, Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez – and his recent transition to playing second base.

“I’m just trying to fill in now. I don’t know what I’m going to do long term,” Chavis said.

Boston’s Michael Chavis celebrates his two-run home run, which traveled an estimated 459 feet, Friday night in Chicago. AP Photo/Jeff Haynes

Right now, what Chavis is doing is adding life to a lineup that has struggled. The team that led the major leagues in runs last year is currently 15th. Along comes Chavis hitting .310 with a 1.061 OPS.

“He controls the strike zone. He’s smart. He takes notes. He’s into the game. He asks questions. So far, so good,” Manager Alex Cora said.

The note-taking continues for Chavis, who scribbles into a pad after every at-bat, in a game or practice. Ever the self-analyst, Chavis nearly missed a scheduled interview Tuesday because he rushed into the clubhouse to watch video of his latest batting practice.

“Sorry about that,” Chavis said. “I was feeling something in my swing. Had to go look.”

It’s that attention to detail – along with his monstrous home runs – that may keep Chavis in the majors. He’ll stay for the time being. Even though Nunez is ready to come off the injured list, utility infielder Tzu-Wei Lin sprained his knee Friday night. Pedroia is in Portland on a rehab assignment and Holt is out indefinitely.

But it’s hard to imagine Chavis going back to the minors if he keeps up this tear.

Can he keep it up? Chavis’ sample size in the majors is only 13 games. Others have sizzled – with Red Sox fans ready to crown the next Fenway slugger – but then dropped off into obscurity.

In 2012, former Sea Dogs third baseman Will Middlebrooks got a taste of the majors and feasted. Called up in May, his emergence prompted the Red Sox to trade Kevin Youkilis in June. Middlebrooks, then 23, and with only 40 games of Triple-A experience, enjoyed a 75-game stretch with Boston – .288/.835 OPS, 15 home runs – before breaking his right wrist in August when hit by a pitch.

Middlebrooks never could replicate his 2012 season. He slumped in 2013 and was sent to the minors. He played 94 major league games (.227/.696, 17 homers). That production dropped to .191/.522, two homers in 63 games in 2014 and Middlebrooks was traded to San Diego for backup catcher Ryan Hanigan.

So after 13 games, it’s too early to begin working on Chavis’ Hall of Fame plaque.

While Chavis does have an advanced approach at the plate and is no longer a pull-only hitter, he only has 20 Triple-A games under him. He may need more seasoning. Chavis also could use a steady position.

Drafted in the first round out of high school in 2014, Chavis was a shortstop. The Red Sox moved him to third base. With Rafael Devers’ emergence at third, Chavis also got time at first base in minor league games last year. During the offseason, Chavis began taking grounders at second and played only five games there in Pawtucket before getting called up.

“This is a guy who’s learning a new position at the highest level, which is not easy to do,” said Febles, who works with the infielders. “He has some things to clean up. He’s doing exactly what we expect him to do, which is to make the routine plays.”

Through Friday night, Chavis had played 10 games at second base and made two errors. He’s also played two games at third and one at first.

“We’ll find a spot for him,” Cora said. “It’s too early for us to decide.”

Chavis said, “I’m comfortable over there (at second) … I was drafted a shortstop and (enjoy) being back in the middle of the field.”

When the injured middle infielders return, Chavis may see more time at first base, with right-handed hitting first baseman Steve Pearce slumping (.100/.325 OPS).

The challenge for Chavis will be to adjust when pitchers begin working him differently. “I’m (already) being pitched away a decent amount,” he said.” And he will keep working on his swing.

“It’s a little more controlled (than before). I know it looks aggressive but if I swing (too) hard, I’ll fall over,” Chavis said.

For now the swing is just right.


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