Earlier this morning, I posted a story on how the roster was essentially set. In it, I included what I assumed were the 25 guys who would be at Fenway when the Red Sox take on the Pirates on Monday. Well, you know what they say about assuming.
John Farrell says Steve Selsky has landed 25th spot on roster that will be "fairly fluid" in the early going. #RedSox— Steve Buckley (@BuckinBoston) April 1, 2017
In my original post linked above, I had assumed that this spot would be going to Marco Hernandez. The utility infielder, of course, has had a phenomenal spring and was almost a natural replacement for the injured Josh Rutledge. Instead, the Red Sox have opted to go with outfielder/first baseman Steve Selsky.
My guess is that the “/first baseman” part was the important piece of information here, along with the fact that Selsky hits from the right side of the plate unlike the left-handed Hernandez. Since Hanley Ramirez is not yet ready for defensive duties at first base, Boston was counting on Rutledge to be right-handed insurance for both corner infield spots. When he was hurt, they were left with two choices. The first was to roll with Hernandez and let Mitch Moreland play on an everyday basis despite the original plan to sit him against left-handed starting pitchers. Hernandez is able to play third base in case of any issue with Pablo Sandoval.
In the end, the Red Sox went with option two. Although Selsky was originally brought in on waivers back in January to shore up the outfield depth, he also has some experience at first base, including some playing time there this spring. I’m not sure that the plan will be to have him start there every time a lefty takes the mound, but it’ll be good to have him as a backup plan and able to start some days. As the Steve Buckley tweet above says, though, this is expected to be a fluid situation. Although Hernandez would’ve been better Sandoval insurance, they do have Brock Holt to fill that role and they won’t really have a good idea of what Sandoval is going to be this year until at least a few weeks into the season. So, for now, Selsky can play an outfield/first base hybrid role and provide a right-handed option off the bench even on days in which Chris Young starts.