Swihart relishing opportunity to 'prove myself'

Eyeing roster spot, Red Sox catcher records 3 RBIs in exhibition game vs. Northeastern

February 22nd, 2018

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- was all smiles between games of a doubleheader sweep on Thursday at Jet Blue Park. The versatile Red Sox switch-hitter started behind the plate in the opener of Thursday's double dip, knocking in three runs on a triple and two walks. He also scored three runs while working four innings behind the plate in Boston's 15-2 win over Northeastern University.

The Red Sox completed the sweep, limiting Boston College to just two hits in a 4-2 win.

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It was a grand start to what first-year Red Sox manager Alex Cora said would be a conscientious effort to give the 25-year-old every opportunity to prove his worth. Swihart played in only five games for Boston last season, but it was one in particular that caught Cora's attention.

"He caught a big game last year for the Red Sox in Tampa," Cora said. "Everything I heard about that game -- he commanded presence, he called a great game. He did an outstanding job in a high leverage extra-innings game."

Swihart has missed time the past two Minor League seasons with injuries, so staying healthy is a priority. And Cora plans to get Swihart enough playing time this spring to make him as comfortable as possible behind the plate.

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"He's going to have plenty of innings in Spring Training and plenty of at-bats," said Cora, who added that he would employ the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Swihart in the outfield as well as at designated hitter, though he's also done work at first base.

"I'm getting opportunities. It's my job to go out there and prove myself and prove I'm ready to help this team win," said Swihart, who is out of options and must start the season on the Sox's roster or be put on waivers. "It was fun getting back in the game and having some contribution."

Swihart's 2016 season was ended when he crashed into the left field wall at Fenway Park, sustaining an injury to his left ankle that required surgery. He missed time last season with a hand injury that he suffered moving back behind the plate.

Swihart's versatility worked against him in the outfield incident, but now he is healthy and ready to fully realize that talent and make Red Sox brass take notice. Legging out a triple is a good start.

"Looked good swinging on a ball, hit it hard, felt good running, so it's a good day," said Swihart, who added that he finally felt good around a week after being called up late last season. "Now, I'm moving laterally again and running again.

"I feel great. Just getting into my squat [being healthy] makes it easier; running to back up first base getting out of my squat, there's just a big difference. It's just a lot more comfortable to play the game when you're healthy."

It's a good start to what Swihart hopes will end with a roster spot and making amends for his unfortunate injury.

"Maybe if I get to Fenway, the first game out there, I may go over and punch the wall," Swihart said.