When one thinks of the Red Sox, stars such as Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, etc. come to mind.
As of late, however, it has not been these star players leading the team - rather a new, younger, inexperienced group of players.
“I think they have done a great job,” catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said.“It is not easy to do what they are doing. Those guys have really stepped it up.”
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A perfect example was last Thursday’s game against the Miami Marlins.
With the Red Sox trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning the “younger” guys stepped up and led the team to a come-from-behind win.
Rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks belted a two-run homerun to tie the game at five.
Outfielder Ryan Kalish then singled, and then advanced to third on a ground out to first base. He eventually scored on a single by fellow emerging star Daniel Nava giving the Red Sox a 6-5 lead, which proved to be the game-winning run.
“I am still watching him, but everyday I see something a little different,” said manager Bobby Valentine of the 24-year-old Kalish, who played 53 big league games in 2010, before being limited to just 24 minor league games in 2011 due to a neck injury. “What’s there not to like? He hasn’t given away an at bat yet.”
Nava first came onto the scene in 2010 when he appeared in 60 games beginning on June 12 when his first big league at bat was a grand slam. He spent all of 2011 and the beginning of 2012 in Pawtucket, before being recalled to the Red Sox on May 10 due to the number of injuries in the Red Sox outfield.
Valentine didn’t know much about Nava, who wasn’t even invited to big league camp in spring training, but has been impressed early on.
“He wasn’t on the radar,” Valentine said. “When he came up to play for us I didn’t have the background on him. I didn’t even know he was a switch hitter.”
Along with Kalish and Nava’s superb play in the outfield, Middlebrooks has assumed the role of the everyday third baseman.
Could this be a major shift in the Red Sox make up?
With Crawford and Ellsbury set to return in the near future Valentine will be forced to make a difficult roster decision, all made possible because of the play of the likes of Nava and Kalish.
“I think each guy on the team knows that when the game starts they have a responsibility and they have to do their job,” Valentine said. “The young guys to the man, the older guys to the man have done what it has taken to win some games. The ‘rookies’ have really stepped up to the plate.”