BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 19: Darnell McDonald #54 of the Boston Red Sox rounds the bases after hitting a home run against Jeremy Guthrie #46 of the Baltimore Oriolest at Fenway Park September 19, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Darnell McDonald seems to have effectively secured his spot on the roster with the help of a strong spring campaign. After three hits against the Orioles today, McDonald has boosted his batting average up to .500 on the spring. It's an effort that has not gone unnoticed by manager Bobby Valentine:
"He's a hitting machine. Just a flat-out hitting machine. What's he hitting, .700?"
"He hasn't hit much against left-handed pitching down here and he's hitting .500. I think he knows there's a potential Opening Day... There's some spots, some room," said Valentine. "He wasn't happy with last year. He's proven that he belongs on this team. I like everything I see."
While it seems like Ryan Sweeney, Nick Punto, and Kelly Shoppach are guaranteed to start the year on the roster, there's still room for one more man--even after the return of Carl Crawford. While placing any real significance on spring training results is a sketchy proposition, a manager has to use something to choose that 25th man. With little real competition beyond Miracle Man Ciriaco, McDonald's performance seems to have earned him the nod...possibly even against right-handed pitchers.
While it was a good day for McDonald, the same could not be said for a number of other Red Sox players, as the roster was once again whittled down. The casualties today included Junichi Tazawa, Clayton Mortensen, and Luis Exposito--all optioned back to Triple-A--as well as Brandon Duckworth, Jesse Carlson, Max St. Pierre, and Alex Hassan.
There's no huge surprises here. While Junichi Tazawa may have held out some hope for a major jump after his injury year, he's clearly not ready as either a starter or reliever at the moment, and the signing of Kelly Shoppach all but guaranteed Luis Exposito a spot in the minors.
And, because it's a slow day, I leave you with this: