NEW YORK -- Less than 24 hours after being traded to the Red Sox, Steve Pearce not only joined his new team, but batted cleanup and belted the first pitch he saw from Carsten Sabathia into the corner in left for a double in Friday night's series-opening 8-1 loss to the Yankees in the Bronx.
Pearce also singled in his second at-bat off Sabathia and finished 2-for-4.
"It got the monkey off the back," Pearce said. "I was actually kind of jittery my first at-bat. It was good to get that out of the way and continue on. It would have been nicer if we got the win. That kind of overshadowed what I did at the plate, but I felt comfortable and I'm going to continue to do what I do."
Pearce was hanging out with some of his Blue Jays teammates on a team off-day when he got the news that he had been traded to Boston.
"I'm very excited," Pearce said. "This was my childhood favorite team, so it's good to be here. Especially with where they're at in the division, it's nice to come in here and play meaningful baseball and contribute to helping the team win."
How did the Red Sox get to be Pearce's favorite team when he was growing up? It turns out his father is from Rehoboth, Mass.
"Family from [Massachusetts], so I was brainwashed as a kid. Had no choice," quipped Pearce.
With lefty Sabathia pitching for the Yankees, Red Sox manager Alex Cora had no hesitation to put Pearce in the lineup, and in a prominent spot. The main reason Boston got him is due to his strong history against lefties.
Matter of fact, Pearce entered the night with 33 lifetime at-bats against Sabathia, the most of any pitcher he's faced.
"It's the greatest rivalry in sports," said Pearce. "It's a great division rivalry, and when these teams play, they get after it. Sometimes it's more than a regular-season game. This has implications in the future, for the division and everything. This is a great place to start my Red Sox career."
Though Pearce has started 261 games in the outfield in his career, the Red Sox will plan on using him almost exclusively at first base and DH. When Pearce serves as DH, J.D. Martinez will play the outfield.
By joining the Red Sox, Pearce has now played for all five teams in the American League East. Pearce became the sixth player in MLB history to play for every team in a division. The only other player to represent every team in the AL East was Kelly Johnson.
"I've been asked that question a lot," said Pearce. "It's cool. I was actually drafted by the Red Sox way back in the day. It's really cool I get to do something very few people have done. I'm very excited."
Pearce was taken by the Red Sox in the 10th round of the 2004 Draft, but he didn't sign. He was selected a year later by the Pirates in the eighth round.
Swihart's role reduced again
When the Red Sox designated Hanley Ramirez for assignment on May 25, it opened up at least some playing time for reserve Blake Swihart. But with Pearce now in the fold to play first base and DH against lefties, it is going to be hard for Cora to find any time for Swihart, who is also boxed out by Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon behind the plate.
Since the exit of Ramirez, Swihart was not able to take advantage of his opportunities, slashing .174/.224/.196 with one double, no homers and two RBIs in 46 at-bats. For the season, Swihart is hitting .158 in 76 at-bats.
"We'll see," Cora said. "He was getting some at-bats right after [Ramirez departed]. Obviously, he hasn't produced, so we'll figure out how we're going to do that. As of now, you know, we're going to play Steve against lefties, and obviously, you know what's going on in the outfield."
Swihart is out of Minor League options. It would not be surprising if he is used as a chip prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Red Sox are looking for help in the bullpen.
Pedroia, Wright to visit doc on Monday
Dustin Pedroia and Steven Wright, who are each back on the disabled list due to inflammation in their left knee, will visit with Dr. Riley Williams in New York on Monday.
It was Williams who performed a cartilage restoration procedure on both Wright and Pedroia last year.
After those appointments, the Red Sox should have a better idea on when both players will return to action.