Heading into the MLB trade deadline, the Red Sox’ biggest area of need was first base, particularly defensively. Boston hasn’t fielded an established major-league first baseman all season, and it shows in the fact that the team is second-worst in the league in errors and fifth-worst in fielding percentage.
Instead of addressing that need at the deadline, Chaim Bloom & Co. made a move for Kyle Schwarber, who has mostly played left field in his career.
Throughout his seven seasons in the MLB, Schwarber played in 623 games. Of those games, he played in the outfield 535 times, 86 percent of his career. Schwarber has played first base once – which equals 0.2 percent.
Despite his inexperience at first base, the Red Sox plan to try him out at the position.
“I am looking forward to the challenge,” Schwarber said (via NESN.com). “I’m not a guy that’s gonna shy away from something. You know, I mean, they asked that, I said ‘let’s go.’ Trust me, I’ll be working my butt off to be over there.”
According to MLB.com, Boston is using its off day on Monday to work out some players and assess where they are at. Schwarber is at the top of the list for needed workouts. The team plans on testing him at first, having him take a lot of ground balls and see how he moves in the infield.
“I know that people can be a little iffy, or whatever it is, if you see a guy that hasn’t played first base before,” Schwarber said. “But I will give you guys my word that I’m going to be working my butt off over there and to the best of my possible abilities. It’s not like I haven’t learned a new position before. You know, I was a catcher coming up through all the minor leagues, college, everything like that, and pretty much just got thrown up in left field in the big leagues.”
Based on his performance in Monday’s workout, Alex Cora is hoping to figure out Schwarber’s future. The former Nationals outfielder suffered a hamstring injury on July 2. So, before he makes his Red Sox debut, Schwarber will most likely spend some time in the minors on a rehab assignment.
“As far as the progress of the injury, we’re excited,” Cora said. “Sometimes with paperwork, you read the stuff and they have all that stuff and sometimes it goes the other way. In our situation, it’s very positive. The progress has been great. We’re hoping that he goes on a rehab assignment sooner rather than later and will be with us whenever he’s ready.”
Although the Red Sox higher-ups are happy with Schwarber’s presence in Boston and the way he is progressing back from his injury, there are still a lot of worries in his situation. He has a lengthy past with injuries, and needs to rehab his current issue. On top of that, he needs to learn a completely new position. That is a lot to ask.