Notes: Shaw eyes roster spot; Devers crushes 5th HR

Cora impressed with attitude at camp; Robles arrives in Fort Myers

March 31st, 2022

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A 31-year-old veteran doesn’t typically exhale when a Spring Training 0-fer is snapped, but things are different for Travis Shaw right now and he knows it.

The non-roster invite designation that Shaw came to camp with has is self-explanatory.

So yes, it was a bit of a relief for Shaw when he snapped his 0-for-17 drought by coming off the bench and lacing a fifth-inning single and an eighth-inning double in Thursday’s 4-3 win over the Twins.

“For sure,” said Shaw. “It’s well documented that I started out pretty slow. My load was a little messed up for a while and showing up late a little bit and playing catch-up at the start, it just took a while to get the feel that I was searching for.

“The last two, three games, I’ve felt a little bit better, and then today to get some hits … [The slow start], it’s not great timing, when you’re trying to fight for a roster spot. Like I said, it’s better late than never. Felt good today and we’ll see what happens over the next couple of days.”

Shaw has a deadline of Saturday to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract. By then, the Red Sox are likely to let him know where he stands so he can make an informed decision.

The left-handed hitter was taken in the ninth round by the Red Sox in the 2011 Draft, and broke in with Boston in '15. He was traded to Milwaukee prior to the '17 season and belted 30-plus homers in each of his first two seasons with the Brew Crew.

Shaw battled injuries and inconsistency the past three seasons, but he seemed to find a niche as a role player when the Red Sox reacquired him down the stretch in 2021.

As the only player in camp beyond starter Bobby Dalbec who has extensive experience at first base, Shaw has a decent chance to break camp with the Sox. But he knows he can’t count on it just yet.

“If I make the team, it’s going to be pretty similar to what it was last year,” said Shaw. “I thought I did a good job in that role last year. We’ll see what happens. I think it’s a plus that they’ve seen me in that role and they know who I am.”

Camp Cora: No distractions
Red Sox manager Alex Cora has been impressed with the concentration of his players this spring and senses that everyone is putting team over individual situations such as contract uncertainty, etc. Cora also said he is better equipped to deal with those situations as a manager than he was two years ago, when the Sox didn’t make the playoffs after winning the World Series in 2018.

“Honestly, I think ’19 taught me a lot in that end,” said Cora. “Obviously ‘18 was a lot easier because we didn't have any talks about free agency. We had no free agents. And then ’19, there was a lot of talk right away. You know, in the cage, everywhere. I was like, ‘Whoa, this is different.’

“I mean, we’re locked in. You can see it as far as the drills and the way we’re playing. There’s not much talk about contracts. There's not much talk about free agency. Everybody understands that we fell short last year to what we wanted to do, and it's been actually one of the best camps that I've been around as far as the way they work, the efficiency and taking care of players and the product on the field.”

Dalbec, Devers crush bombs
If you haven’t noticed, Rafael Devers is ready for the start of the season. The star third baseman crushed his MLB-leading fifth homer of Spring Training on Thursday.

“He’s locked in,” Cora said. “He turned a good double play. He’s in a good spot. He’ll go [Friday] to Port Charlotte and he’ll have Saturday off and then he’ll play the next three. I’ve been saying all along, this is a different dude. He keeps growing up. He’s enjoying the game. He’s taking it very seriously. It doesn’t matter if it’s in Spring Training or in the Dominican or in Boston. When he plays, it’s all out and locked in. So far it’s been fun to watch.”

Dalbec is another player who has caught Cora’s eye, and not just because he unloaded for his third homer of Spring Training on Thursday, a towering shot that went over everything in left. 

“He’s made an effort to cut down his swing,” said Cora. “Obviously it’s still Spring Training. We like the fact he understands there’s certain at-bats he has to put the ball in play. That’s something that he did on his own. Obviously we couldn’t talk to him in the offseason. It looks good. He was short to the ball twice today. He’s been very solid throughout Spring Training as far as his timing and everything else. Now it’s just a matter of trying to stay consistent.”

Robles arrives
Thirteen days after re-signing with the Red Sox on a Minor League deal that included an invite to Spring Training, righty reliever Hansel Robles at last arrived in Fort Myers on Thursday.

The reason for the delay? Visa issues.

However, Cora thinks Robles can hit the ground running and has a chance to break camp with the Sox. Given Boston’s lack of bullpen depth from the right side, Robles has a chance to make an impact.

“He played catch today. He’s probably going to throw a bullpen tomorrow,” Cora said after Thursday’s game. “We’ll see when we get him into the game. I have to talk to [pitching coach Dave Bush] about it. He looks great. I wouldn’t be surprised if he says he’s ready to get into a game, but we have to be smart. He’ll let us know. As soon as he gets on the mound, we’ll see how his pitches are playing, where he’s at and we’ll make decisions accordingly.”