Bobby Dalbec hit eight home runs in 23 games for the Red Sox last season. He is expected to be Boston’s regular first baseman this season. Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Red Sox slugger Bobby Dalbec belted eight home runs in 23 games during 2020, then in the offseason hit the gym right away and lost about 10 pounds.

“Just kind of leaned up,” Dalbec said Tuesday. “I wouldn’t say I lost strength or mass or anything like that. I feel faster, stronger and more fluid. I think it will help me being more versatile whether I’m playing first or third or whatever they need me to do. So that was a goal. … I did the same workouts and everything. I didn’t really take any time off. As soon as I got back. I got right back in the gym and started grinding that stuff out.

“I feel like I got faster, more explosive. So yeah, trying to be more of a dynamic, complete player.”

Bobby Dalbec earned a late-season promotion to the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs in 2018. John Ewing/Staff Photographer

Dalbec is expected to be Boston’s starting first baseman in 2021. He hit .263 (21 for 80) with a .359 on-base percentage, .600 slugging percentage, .959 OPS, eight home runs, three doubles, 16 RBI, 10 walks and 39 strikeouts in 92 plate appearances last year.

Dalbec, who is eligible for the 2021 AL Rookie of the Year despite debuting in 2020, said he said he wants to do more damage earlier in counts.

“Swing decisions earlier in the count was a big thing I wanted to focus on,” he said. “And just being ready. Allowing myself to see the ball as best as I can.”


Dalbec said it’s important for him to hold his direction throughout his swing, which should allow him to make better contact within the strike zone. Cora believes Dalbec will cut down on his swing-and-misses this season.

“It seems like he swings and misses a lot in the early part of the season at whatever level he plays, then he makes adjustments and the swing-and-miss rate go down, the strikeouts go down and the numbers go up,” Cora said. “What he did last year was impressive. When he connects, it goes far. What I like about Bobby is the other part of it. He’s a good baserunner, defender.”

Dalbec’s strikeout rate historically drops when he becomes more comfortable at each new level. It dropped from 37.4% at Low-A in 2017 to 31.0% in High-A in 2018.

He earned a late-season promotion to the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs in 2018 and his strikeout rate increased to 37.1% in 29 games there. But it dropped to 25.1% in 105 games at Portland and 23.6% in 30 games at Triple-A Pawtucket in 2019.

“He’s not going to get too high, he’s not going to get too low. He understands that was only 90 at-bats,” Cora said. “The fact he drives the ball the other way, too, helps him out to not try to be pull-happy and hit it 500 feet when you can hit it 380 and it’s a home run.”

BOSTON’S RIGHT-HANDED pitching prospect Connor Seabold, acquired with Nick Pivetta from the Phillies for Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree last August, tossed a scoreless inning against the Braves on Monday.


He allowed one single and struck out two. The 25-year-old is expected to begin 2021 in Triple-A Worcester’s starting rotation.

“The velocity was impressive,” Cora said Tuesday. “I didn’t expect that one. But you can see his change-up and it’s a good one.”

Cora said Seabold’s fastball velocity was up to 95-96 mph. He has sat in the low-90s In previous seasons.

“You can tell the difference. There was a big margin between the fastball and the change-up,” Cora said.

Seabold’s best pitch is his change-up. He uses wrist pronation when he throws the change-up, meaning he turns his wrist out when he throws the pitch. It something he began doing in 2019 to create better action and spin.

“It was a good one yesterday,” Cora said about Seabold’s change-up. “And if he starts getting that separation velocity-wise, it’s going to be actually better. One thing he said last year he never felt it was where he was supposed to be. He didn’t have the feel of the change-up. We were very happy with the change-up, from everything I hear last year. So if he starts feeling it, it’s going to be a weapon for him.”


Cora said the young pitchers in camp, including Seabold, are paying attention to all details while throwing bullpens.

“He goes from the stretch and he’s looking at runners,” Cora said. “And he prepares. That was really good. But velocity caught my eye yesterday.”

ENRIQUE HERNANDEZ, Jarren Duran and Rafael Devers hit home runs in a six-run third inning as the Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 9-3 at Fort Myers, Florida, on Tuesday.

Yairo Munoz hit a two-run homer in the second for Boston.

Martin Perez started and pitched two innings, allowing one hit.

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