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Top prospect Chavis eager to return to Sox camp

Power-hitting infielder served 80-game suspension last season, posted .919 OPS in Minors after return
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- The loss of what he loves to do the most lingered with Red Sox prospect Michael Chavis for all three months of his 80-game suspension to start last season. That's why nobody is more excited to get to Spring Training than the power-hitting infielder.

Chavis' suspension was for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, and he was adamant at the time that he had never heard of the substance (Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone) he was flagged for, and had no idea how it got into his system.

BOSTON -- The loss of what he loves to do the most lingered with Red Sox prospect Michael Chavis for all three months of his 80-game suspension to start last season. That's why nobody is more excited to get to Spring Training than the power-hitting infielder.

Chavis' suspension was for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, and he was adamant at the time that he had never heard of the substance (Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone) he was flagged for, and had no idea how it got into his system.

But all of that is over now, and Chavis -- the top-ranked Red Sox prospect by MLB Pipeline -- is beaming at the chance to play a full baseball season in 2019.

Video: Top Prospects: Michael Chavis, 3B, Red Sox

"Any time away from baseball, even an offseason, is tough for me," Chavis said last week from the MLB/MLBPA's Rookie Career Development Program. "Everybody tells you to take a little time away from baseball activities and hitting, which is obviously my thing. When the offseason hits, like the first two weeks, you just tell yourself, 'Take some time, rest, let your body recover.' It's one of the hardest things for me, just because I enjoy hitting so much."

One thing Red Sox fans will come to learn about Chavis is that if he's not eating or sleeping, he is most likely hitting.

"It's just my thing to do. Even when I was in high school and even when I was younger, I'd go hit at night, just on my own, off a tee because it was something I enjoyed doing," Chavis said. "When my buddies would want to hang out, I'd be like, 'Do you want to go hit and just chill?'"

The 23-year-old Chavis is proud to say he still hasn't grown out of that obsession for having a bat in his hands whenever possible.

"To this day, my best friend and I, we still go hit," Chavis said. "Late at night, we'll be there until 1, 2 in the morning just swinging, talking, working on our swings and everything like that. It's just something I thoroughly enjoy doing. Any time away from baseball activities and especially the game, it's just, it's different for me, so I'm excited to get back."

This is a big year for the right-handed hitter, one which will start with a second consecutive trip to Major League Spring Training and could end with his first stint with the Red Sox.

After returning from his suspension, Chavis got back to doing his thing in short order. In 46 games and 171 at-bats, he slashed .298/.381/.538 with nine homers and 27 RBIs.

"I'm not as concerned about proving myself or making up for lost time, as much as I am just excited to getting back to doing what I do," Chavis said. "I felt like I played pretty well this year. I took care of my business and did what I needed to do."

While everyone knows that the hit tool is what can set Chavis apart, the Red Sox are keeping their options open on what position he will settle in at.

Chavis was drafted out of high school as a shortstop in 2014, but he has spent most of his time in the Minors as a third baseman. But last year, he started 11 games at first base. There's even been talk that Chavis could play second at some point.

"I'd say I'm fairly comfortable [moving around]," Chavis said. "Being signed originally as a shortstop, I played some games there and then making the transition to third was a little more complicated than the more recent transition, especially to first and playing other positions.

"At this point, I feel like I'm taking care of business and I'm taking care of myself physically, so as long as I can just get some reps over there, wherever I'm at, as long as I'm in the lineup, I'm going to be happy, as long as I'm playing baseball. It's as simple as it is. I think I'll be pretty comfortable wherever I'm at."

As Chavis learned the hard way in the first half of 2018, the only place he is truly uncomfortable is away from the baseball field.

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

Boston Red Sox, Michael Chavis