The second round of the Blake Swihart era in Boston is now live, as the Boston Red Sox called up the newly anointed left fielder from Triple-A Pawtucket as starting left fielder Brock Holt was sent to the seven-day disabled list with a concussion.
Reliever Noe Ramirez was also recalled from Triple-A on Friday, with the Red Sox optioning right-hander Carson Smith to the 15-day disabled list with right elbow soreness.
Swihart saw ample time at the catching position with the big league club in the absence of catcher Christian Vazquez last season, appearing in 84 games behind the plate and hitting a solid .274 at the plate with an OBP of .319 and an OPS of .711, hitting five home runs and driving in 31 runs.
However, with the reemergence of Vazquez and the consistency of backstop Ryan Hanigan in catching for knuckleballer Steven Wright, the 24-year-old became expendable with the option of him receiving time in left field becoming a possibility.
And thus, Swihart began working on his outfield skills in Pawtucket, starting 11 games in left field and another 14 outings behind the plate in his most recent minor league stint, in which he batted .243 with one home run.
While Red Sox manager John Farrell has insisted that the team still plans on utilizing Swihart as a catcher in the long term, the chance for him to assist the team in left field in a platoon role for the time being is an attractive option.
The Texas native will receive the starting nod on Friday night against the Cleveland Indians, and is likely to be placed in the lineup against multiple right-handers over the course of Holt's stay on the disabled list with fellow left fielder Chris Young squaring off against lefty starting pitchers.
Brock Holt, Carson Smith sent to disabled list
Holt, who suffered the mild concussion diving for a ball in a contest against the Oakland Athletics last week, had been slumping mightily as of late, hitting one for his last 21 with one run and one walk which has played into his dismal .200 batting average in the month of May
For the season, the 2015 AL All-Star is hitting just .239 with three home runs and 19 RBI, accounting for an OBP of .310.
In the case of Smith, the arm soreness simply continues what has been an aggravating season thus far for the reliever, acquired in an offseason trade with the Seattle Mariners for starting pitcher Wade Miley.
After being activated from the disabled list originally on May 3 after suffering a right flexor muscle strain in spring training, the 26-year-old only appeared in 2.2 innings of work, holding opponents scoreless while striking out two, allowing two hits, and walking one.
With Smith headed back to the disabled list, setup man Koji Uehara (2-1, 3.74 ERA, nine holds, one blown save) will continue his role as the eighth-inning man in the bullpen while Ramirez (5.79 ERA, 9.1 innings, 12 hits, six runs, 10 strikeouts in nine appearances) begins his second stint of 2016 with Boston.