One day later, Michael Chavis certainly wasn’t letting the biggest moment of his young major league career get to his head.
As the Red Sox returned to Fenway Park on Wednesday, a night after the rookie hit his first career home run — a titanic blast in their 4-2 loss to the Tigers — Chavis was continuing to yearn for more knowledge as he met with his coaches.
“I actually told him this. Today was probably one of the best conversations I’ve had with a young player that’s come up here in the two years I’ve been here,” Red Sox assistant hitting coach Andy Barkett said. “Just the questions he was asking, things he was wanting to know about it. It was really neat to hear his advanced thought process for a young player coming to the big leagues for the first time.”
In the week since Chavis’ call-up, that seems to be a common theme.
After Tuesday night’s game, Alex Cora raved about Chavis’ understanding of the game and the lengths he’s going to learn and prepare for his at-bats, which the manager said has been fun to watch. It’s a rare trait for a 23-year-old that’s not going unnoticed.
“They’re wanting to come here and put up numbers and produce and so forth, and obviously we all know there’s a process involved in that,” Barkett said in general of young hitters being freshly called up. “Some players can lose that in translation a little bit, but (Chavis) is totally in tune with our process and what we do.”
It has translated to some strong results so far. In his first big league at-bat last Saturday in Tampa, Chavis’ late double helped sparked the Red Sox to a win. Then Tuesday night he hammered a 2-2 pitch in the eighth inning that cleared the Monster seats and went out of the ballpark for his first career homer, which went an estimated 441 feet.
Barkett said Chavis is “pretty advanced” when it comes to his approach, and he’s showing so far that the enhanced spotlight doesn’t faze him.
“The thing that’s impressed me the most is his calmness in being in the big leagues and playing for the world champions and being able to maintain stillness in his attitude and approach to it all,” Barkett said.
Cora noted Wednesday he was expecting Chavis “to be out of control” at the plate after hearing a lot about his swings and misses in the minors last season, but that hasn’t been the case. The manager said Chavis is looking for pitches and eventually will develop into using the opposite field.
It’s been a week, but clearly the Red Sox are enamored with his offensive potential. They have been struggling offensively, and Barkett made it simple with how Chavis can help.
“Just keep doing what he’s doing and have good at-bats,” Barkett said. “Scare the other team by his presence and ability to hit the ball 440 feet, and hopefully be able to hit pitches in the zone and not swing at ones out of the zone.”
“He’s got a lot of ability,” Barkett continued. “It’s one day at a time. It’s a long season and the league’s going to make adjustments to him, he’s going to have to make adjustments, and it’s just like any other young player, you just see how they adjust to the league once they get up here. He’s shown the ability so far, but it’s a brief few days, so we’ll just go one day at a time like everybody else.”
JBJ looks for breakthrough
Like last season, the Red Sox are hoping Jackie Bradley Jr. can try to find some success at the plate. Entering Wednesday, he was batting just .134 with no home runs through 21 games.
Cora certainly is not lacking faith in Bradley figuring it out, especially after his turnaround last season that culminated in him being named ALCS MVP. The manager is hoping hitting the ball the other way can get the center fielder going.
“We trust the player. I trust him,” Cora said. “It’s just a matter of making a few adjustments. Like I said, I think hitting today out there is going to help him out, hit a few balls the other way to left-center. I think that’s a good feeling for him. Last year it started that way, a few balls through the shortstop hole in the shift. A few balls the other way and then everything up and out. That’s what we are hoping for, for him to hit a few balls the other way. And he can stay on fastballs that way, hit it hard that way and then whatever they throw soft in the zone he can get to it and be on time and hit out of the ballpark.”
Cora said Brock Holt (eye) took batting practice again Wednesday and there’s a “pretty good chance” he’ll begin a rehab assignment this weekend.
“He feels good,” Cora said. “I think one more day of BP here is gonna get him to the point that he’s comfortable with what’s going on and we’ll send him to a rehab assignment.”
Dustin Pedroia (knee) also took batting practice outside Wednesday and Cora said they’ll see how he reacts before deciding his next step. Cora said Eduardo Nunez (back) feels good after taking about 300 swings during Tuesday’s doubleheader, and could be in line for a rehab assignment soon.