Chavis' arrival delayed in air, and on ground

Top prospect after adventure: 'I don't even know what day it is'

April 20th, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- ’ excitement was palpable as he entertained the media throng gathered around his locker on Saturday afternoon, animatedly describing his path to the big leagues.

Only this story wasn’t so much about Chavis’ journey through the Minors en route to his first Major League callup as it was about Friday’s trip to the ballpark.

“I’ll be honest,” Boston’s top prospect per MLB Pipeline said before the Red Sox played the Rays, “I don’t even know what day it is.”

And for good reason. The whirlwind began Friday morning, when Chavis, who had been playing for Triple-A Pawtucket, awoke to a trio of missed calls. Concerned he had “messed something up,” he instead learned of his promotion and hurried to catch a flight from Syracuse, N.Y., to St. Petersburg for the series opener.

Here’s where things get fun: Because of severe thunderstorms and tornado watches in the Tampa Bay area, Chavis’ flight spent an hour longer in the air than scheduled, leaving many to wonder what was going on. Chavis was so late, in fact, that his brother -- who drove from Alabama -- beat him to Tropicana Field.

“I was getting texts from staff and they were like, ‘Where are you?’” Chavis said with a chuckle. “And I’m like, ‘I’m literally in the air. I don’t know what you want me to do.’”

From there, an Uber transported baseball’s No. 75 overall prospect from the airport to Tropicana Field … well, almost. It seems the driver actually dropped his charge three blocks away, leaving Chavis to hump the final distance laden with several equipment and personal bags as onlookers stared.

But that wasn’t all.

“I showed up [to Tropicana Field] in like the third inning, walked in literally in jeans and my shirt, and they were like, ‘Hey, you’re getting ready to hit in two batters,’” he said. “I thought they were messing with me. I was in jeans, just off a plane, haven’t even stretched, I’m wearing a T-shirt … there’s no way. But they were being serious, so I went in and took some swings off the tee.”

“Luckily, [Christian] Vasquez hit the bomb so everything was good, and I didn’t have to hit, because that would’ve been a tough first big league at-bat.”

Chavis, who Red Sox manager Alex Cora said will likely start Sunday’s finale, got a pinch-hit double in his first Major League at-bat Saturday, lining a 99 mph pitch from Rays left-hander Jose Alvarado over center fielder Kevin Kiermaier's head in the ninth inning.

“He’s in a good place,” Cora said. “There’s a very good chance he’ll play. His family’s here, he knows already … and he’s very excited.

“He’s swinging the bat well. Good work at second, third, first, a little DH. We’ll find the at-bats for him. That’s what he’s here for.”

Chavis’ observation that the last two days were “a little bit hectic” seemed quite the understatement. The important part to him was that he was finally where he needed to be.

“I’m not really sure exactly what my role will be, but I’m here for a reason, and whatever that reason will be, that’s what I’m here for,” he said Saturday.