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Backyard baseball: Chavis returns to roots 

@IanMBrowne
April 2, 2020

BOSTON -- Red Sox infielder Michael Chavis is the definition of a batting cage rat. For as long as he can remember, his hobby when he isn’t actually playing baseball is to take endless swings in the cage. In these times of social distancing and most nonessential businesses being closed

BOSTON -- Red Sox infielder Michael Chavis is the definition of a batting cage rat.

For as long as he can remember, his hobby when he isn’t actually playing baseball is to take endless swings in the cage.

In these times of social distancing and most nonessential businesses being closed during the coronavirus pandemic, Chavis has found a fun way to improvise.

He is playing the game of his youth -- Wiffle ball -- and playing it a lot.

Last week, Chavis posted an Instagram video that got more than 32,000 views of him hitting a mammoth homer off his girlfriend Sarah, who features an arsenal heavy on cutters.

“She’s a lefty who throws a natural cutter all day,” Chavis said. “Even with a normal baseball, she just naturally throws a cutter. She’s been awesome down here too because she’s the one I’ll play catch with.”

After the plastic ball landed on a sidewalk across the street from the yard he was hitting at in Fort Myers, Fla., Chavis went into a full home run trot, raising his right arm in triumph as he got to each base. His brother Fuzzy can be heard cheering in the background.

“My brother is the one who was taking the video so it’s pretty much just us as a trio going around doing stuff,” Chavis said.

Chavis has always been a person who looks for the positives in everything. That mentality has helped him during these trying times.

Is there a certain message he was sending by posting the fun Wiffle ball video on social media?

“I guess it kind of was motivational. But it was moreso, just find something fun to do,” Chavis said. “I was literally just sitting at home and I was like, ‘What are some things when I was a kid? What would I do when I would go outside? What did I love playing?’

“And I was like, ‘Wiffle ball was absolutely my go to all the time.’ So I just went on Amazon so I ordered some Wiffle balls, I got some bases, I got a bat. I’m going to tape up the bat and everything. It’s going to be legit.”

Chavis knows the trappings people can fall into these days, and he’d like to prevent that for himself and others.

“The big thing for me is I’m trying to stay away from screens,” Chavis said. “I spend so much time on my phone, or watching TV or playing video games in daily life, I just wanted to change it up and just do something different.”

Though Chavis knows better than to join any crowds, he is doing his best to enjoy the Florida weather.

“I spend the majority of my days outside right now. Right now, I’m taking a bike ride as I’m talking to you as something to do,” Chavis said. “I’ll probably play Wiffle ball later. I’ll go shoot. There’s a basketball hoop around here. We have a golf cart we’ll take for a ride.

“Have you ever heard of an Aerobie? It’s like a Frisbee that doesn’t have a middle and you can throw it up to like 1,300 yards. It’s ridiculous. It’s so much fun. I got it for like six bucks at Target. So just doing stuff outside, trying to stay active. Not just to stay in shape but to have something to do.”

Chavis had still been able to take batting practice at Fenway South until March 24, when a Red Sox Minor League player tested positive for COVID-19. Since then, the complex has been closed and will remain so for at least another week.

So Wiffle ball it is!

“Obviously I can’t just go to somewhere and hit off a pitching machine. Literally the Wiffle ball has kind of become a little bit of my baseball-swinging training,” said Chavis. “It sounds like a joke but you can throw curveballs and sliders and just some hand-eye coordination and swinging mechanics and it’s fun. I don’t really know what else I can do. That’s what I have. I’m just trying to make do with what I’ve got.”

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