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Red Sox have bench luxury in Young

Veteran outfielder 'prepared to play every day' if need arises
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BRADENTON, Fla. -- When Chris Young launched his first home run of Spring Training in the top of the third inning of Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Pirates, it served as a reminder of why the Red Sox signed him to a two-year, $13 million contract prior to last season.

But Young also does some more subtle things that make him a nice luxury for a contender like Boston to have off the bench.

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- When Chris Young launched his first home run of Spring Training in the top of the third inning of Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Pirates, it served as a reminder of why the Red Sox signed him to a two-year, $13 million contract prior to last season.

But Young also does some more subtle things that make him a nice luxury for a contender like Boston to have off the bench.

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Take, for example, his first at-bat of the game. Brock Holt had just led off with a double and Young purposefully hit a grounder to second to move the runner over.

"Just trying to execute, moving the runner over," said Young. "I'm going to have to do that during the season at some point so you don't care about getting out. You just try to execute what your plan is at the plate and just try to stick with that."

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In Young, the Red Sox have one of the more polished reserves in the game. The right-handed hitter will start against all lefties and be mixed in against righties.

The homer that Young lofted over the wall in left on Saturday came against Pirates lefty Wade LeBlanc.

"He's a pro," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Situational hitting in his first at-bat, moves a runner over. We know what he can do against left-handed pitching, which was on display again here today. But he's just very good for that role. He's more than a bench player. He's very capable. To have that kind of right-handed power available to you to spell guys, to match up against lefties, he's a very good fit for this team."

Video: MIN@BOS: Young doubles to center, scores Moreland

The 33-year-old Young has had as many as 625 at-bats in a season, and has topped 500 at-bats four different times in his career. But he knows that with the Red Sox, his role is to back up a talented young outfield of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts. Young is also a strong insurance policy in the event that one of the outfielders or designated hitter Hanley Ramirez suffers an injury.

"I wouldn't say I'm frustrated," said Young. "I knew what the situation was when I came here. Try to be a good teammate, try to produce when you get the opportunity. I think if you ask any player, everybody wants to play every day. I'm no exception. I would love to play every day. I feel like I can have success against righties. I feel like I'm capable for sure.

"But it's just like last year. The situation doesn't change, the approach doesn't change. Last year I came to Spring Training prepared to play every day if the opportunity presented itself. It didn't happen, that's fine. This year is no different. I'm prepared to play every day. If it doesn't happen, I'll be ready whenever they need me."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Chris Young