BOSTON -- The Red Sox will be forced to endure an extended stretch without catcher Christian Vazquez, who will undergo surgery on his fractured right pinkie finger on Tuesday and is expected to miss six to eight weeks.
The 27-year-old Vazquez, hitting .213/.249/.300 in 60 games this season, was placed on the disabled list on Sunday.
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and manager Alex Cora said before Monday's game against the Rangers that they are comfortable with Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart as the catching tandem until Vazquez comes back.
However, Dombrowski has been aggressive during trade season throughout his career, so there's always a chance he could seek an upgrade behind the plate by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Through the first 91 games of the seasons, the breakdown behind the plate looked like this: Vazquez 54 starts, Leon 36 starts and Swihart one start.
Though Leon, an excellent defender, will be the primary catcher while Vazquez is out, Swihart will now get more of a proving ground.
Out of Minor League options, Swihart has spent the entire season on the roster as a utility player but in a seldom-used utility role. He will catch Tuesday night, which will be the 17th time he's been in the starting lineup at any position this season.
Known for his bat, the switch-hitting Swihart hasn't been able to get anything going so far this season, slashing .185/.250/.210 with two doubles, no homers and four RBIs in 81 at-bats.
"He'll be fine," Cora said of Swihart. "We trust the guy. He's been working hard blocking and throwing. He prepares like Christian and Sandy. We're not going to hesitate. He's going to play. We're in a good spot. We're going to miss Christian, of course. He's the next guy and he's been with us the whole season. He knows what we want from them. He knows what we do on the mound. We'll be OK."
What must Swihart do to start getting some better results at the plate?
"Not try to impress us," said Cora. "We trust him. I feel that offensively that's what he tried to do. Whenever he got his time to play, he was trying to get four hits every at-bat. You can't do that. Just be yourself. We're comfortable with you. Just go out there, call the game, do what you've got to do defensively and offensively just be yourself."
Plotting out plan for Pedroia
The Red Sox are in the process of plotting out a detailed plan for Dustin Pedroia's comeback. Pedroia spent all of last week in New York under the supervision of Dr. Riley Williams, who performed Pedroia's left knee surgery last fall.
"We got a lot of information and we've been meeting a lot today," said Cora. "So we'll have a pretty good idea what we're going to do with him, but it was a positive visit for him last week. So as far as what we should do, which adjustments, today we're talking about it, talking to him, [trainer] Brad [Pearson], everybody else and we will have a pretty good idea tomorrow what we're going to do with Pedey."
Pedroia underwent microfracture surgery and cartilage restoration on his left knee in October. After an extensive rehab, he played three games for the Red Sox from May 26-29 and had to go back on the disabled list with recurring inflammation.
"I think it's more about what we have to do to avoid that," Cora said. "It's not only the knee, it's the other areas that probably we have to make adjustments as far as like training or strengthen those areas so we can avoid situations like this."
Lefty Thomas Pomeranz, who last started for the Red Sox on May 31, will throw a third Minor League rehab start on Friday.
In preparation for that, Pomeranz threw a bullpen session at Fenway Park on Monday. With Christopher Johnson (left hip inflammation) and Steven Wright (left knee inflammation) both on the disabled list, the return of Pomeranz would be timely for Boston.
If Pomeranz has a productive start on Friday, there's a chance he could be ready to rejoin the Red Sox after the All-Star break.
Long man Hector Velazquez is the likely candidate to start Tuesday night at Fenway in place of Johnson, who had been the fifth starter the last two turns through the rotation.