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Red Sox 2, Rays 3: Michael Chavis homers in a loss

And Nick Pivetta was pretty solid.

2021 Spring Training: Boston Red Sox v. Minnesota Twins Photo by Adam Glanzman/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Red Sox are now on a not-winning streak, dropping their game on Monday to the Rays by a score of 3-2 a day after tying the Twins. This one had some plusses, most notably from the guy in that picture above these words, and also a pretty good day from the starter. Here are the notes from the day:

Michael Chavis continues to make his case for the roster

Heading into camp, it looked all but certain Michael Chavis would be heading down to Worcester to start the season. A lot of this was due to his poor 2020 in which the flaws in his game greatly overshadowed the things he does well. When you throw in the fact that he has a minor-league option remaining while Christian Arroyo does not, the decision was all but written in stone. However, injuries happen and more spots open up, and that’s what’s happening here. It seems all but certain Franchy Cordero will not be able to start the season on the roster after a delayed start to his camp due to a COVID issue, opening up a battle to take that spot. Chavis has certainly made the most of his opportunity this spring to grab that.

He continued that run today with another home run. It came in the second, going up against Rays reliever Hunter Strickland. The righty threw a fastball over the plate down in the zone, which is not where you want to throw a fastball to Chavis. Last year even that pitch gave him some issues, but that has not quite been the case this spring. It certainly was not the case here as he smashed it way out to straightaway center field for his fourth homer of the spring. Chavis, who started this game at first base and later moved over to third, got four trips to the plate, going 1-4 with two strikeouts.

The power has been on full display all spring, and he is now up to a 1.047 OPS in Grapefruit League action. Setting aside the numbers, he has just looked a lot more confident with his spring on a consistent basis, to the point where I think he has to have the inside track for that roster spot. It’s likely between him and Yairo Muñoz, the latter of which is not on the 40-man roster. If there was a normal Triple-A season happening in April, I think there would be a better case to send Chavis down for those consistent at bats. I’m just not sure there’s the same kind of value in Alternate Site at bats, though, so that combined with his torrid spring give him the upper hand, at least in my mind.

Nick Pivetta has a solid day on the mound

The start for this one went to Nick Pivetta, who looked very much like Nick Pivetta against the Rays. That, to be clear, is not really a bad thing considering he’s the number five pitcher in this rotation. And there are positives in this profile, which obviously pretty much starts and ends with the stuff. Pivetta can sling it and his secondaries have nice break as well, it’s just a matter of location. But in terms of stuff things looked good, with his fastball back up in the mid-90s. He had four strikeouts on the day.

However, location and general command was an issue, which has too often been the case for him over his career. In this one, Pivetta did walk one batter, but he also gave up some hard contact, including three doubles plus a single. In all, it only resulted in one run across his four innings, so the damage was limited in that respect.

Overall, I’ve been more encouraged than discouraged with Pivetta this spring, though that is in part due to low expectations coming in. The stuff looks lively, and he’s done well enough locating that I think he can be a fine back-end arm. Again, the Red Sox don’t need a breakout where he turns into an ace. They just need a guy who can keep them in a ballgame once every five days. This spring, he’s looked like a guy who can do that, even with some missed locations.

MLB: MAR 09 Red Sox at Rays Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Other Notes

  • Hirokazu Sawamura made his second appearance for the Red Sox this spring, and this one looked a lot like his first. That is not a good thing. The reliever struggled mightily with control once again, recording only two outs while allowing a run on three walks and a double. He did have a couple of nice strikeouts after loading the bases with no outs, but he couldn’t finish the inning. To me, it just looks like a guy who is over-amped, which is understandable given the circumstances. We’ll want to see him look more refined a few times before the season starts, but right now I’m not super worried.
  • Matt Barnes also got into this game as he looks to grab that closer role to start the season. He was not perfect in this one, but the stuff still looked crisp. The righty allowed a couple of runners on a walk and a single, but got out of the inning without any runs thanks in part to a pair of strikeouts.
  • Triston Casas, the organization’s top prospect, got the start in this one after making his spring debut off the bench on Sunday. He started at DH and had a couple of good at bats. In particular, he drew a really impressive walk that showed off his advanced approach. Overall he went 0-3 with the walk and a strikeout.
  • Other players getting hits in this game who have not been mentioned were: Jarren Duran, who came in off the bench and used his speed to turn a soft ball to right field into a triple; Bobby Dalbec, who started at third base and went 2-3 with a double, a single, a run scored and a strikeout as he continues to have a great spring; J.D. Martinez, who started the game in left field (and continues to not look great in the field) and went 1-2 with a single and a strikeout; César Puello, who came in off the bench and had a single in his only at bat; Kevin Plawecki, who started behind the plate and went 1-2 with a single; Austin Rei, who came in to hit late in the game and smacked a double; and Kole Cottam, who was another mid-game sub who went 1-2 with a single.
  • Also pitching in this game who have not been mentioned were: Josh Winckowski, part of the return in the Andrew Benintendi deal who came in after Sawamura and retired the only batter he faced; Josh Taylor, who should make the Opening Day roster and allowed a run in his inning of work on a single and a walk; and Colten Brewer, who is likely going to start the year in Worcester and tossed a scoreless inning in which he allowed just a walk.