Dombo talks Panda, and Vazquez/Swihart
Dave Dombrowski spoke to the media for roughly 15 minutes today to talk about Pablo Sandoval and Blake Swihart/Christian Vazquez. Here is a sampling.
The latest on Sandoval:
“So, he had an MRI yesterday. There’s a great deal going on in his left shoulder from a medical perspective. He is going to get a second opinion on Monday, from Dr. Andrews. Monday morning. Then we will have a disclosure at that point on what actually is involved with his shoulder. Until we get the second opinion, we’re going to wait to make any kind of statements on that because we want to make sure whatever is diagnosed is the proper one. We talked to his agent about that this morning, Rick Thurman. He felt comfortable with that situation, as does Pablo. And so that’s what our plans are.”
Could the injury require surgery?
“I’m not going to speculate on anything but I won’t rule anything out either.”
Is it an ominous sign that Sandoval is seeing Andrews?
“Well, Dr. Andrews, if he’s not the best, he’s one of the best. We’ve sent many people to them. But I think when you’re dealing with a situation that’s with any player really, but a player that you want to make sure what exactly is in there that he’s one of the best and so you send it to him. I’ve had plenty of guys go there and come back with the same exact diagnosis and everything be smooth. And other guys, sometimes they see a little bit different. Dr. Andrews, I have the utmost respect for him, as does our medical team as does Pablo and his agent.”
The playing time issue is officially on the backburner.
“Well, right now, we’re in a situation where we need to get him healthy. And when people ask what his situation is, really, speculation doesn’t serve me any good. It’s just really a situation, the first thing with him is to tackle the medical aspect of it. And I would do that with any player.”
What about a report from Yahoo that Sandoval only wants to stay in Boston if he’s playing every day?
“It’s never been termed that way to me. I know he wants to play every day. But he also understands the situation.”
Then, the conversation switched to Swihart.
How hard was it to send him down?
“Yeah, lot of conversations on that situation. Very difficult decision because of how much we like Blake and how good a player we think he is. We emphasized that to him when we talked. We’ve thought about, should we carry three catchers or not? A lot of people were involved in the decision, really the whole staff. I had a long conversation with Jason Varitek. I ran into him the other day, it just so happened, in the morning at Dunkin Donuts, having a cup of coffee, and we talked for over an hour on the situation. Then we met that afternoon. And really our feelings at this time are two-fold.
“One is, what it comes down to, we think he has a chance to be a good catcher, an all-star type of catcher. It won’t hurt him to go down and continue to develop those skills. With Christian coming on board, we don’t think that the catching time here will be enough to continue for him to grow in that regard. We do want him to continue to catch. The second part of it is as we look towards the future and even as time goes on, we would like Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart to both be part of our club. And they’re both not going to be everyday catchers with our team.
“Blake’s more athletic. He’s a converted catcher. We think he can make a conversion to another position. Even on a part-time basis, so we can keep his bat in the lineup. So he’s also going to learn, when we send him out, we’re going to start hitting him flyballs in left field. We think that’s more fair to do that down in Triple-A then just put him in at the big league level and say, here you go, so he’s also going to start working on that. so the combination between catching, we’re not going to put him right in left field to play. We’re going to start hitting him some flyballs. We think he’ll be able to make the conversion while continuing to catch and DH. He’ll be in the lineup every day and we think that’s more beneficial for him at this stage of his career than it would be playing on a periodic basis here.”
How did Swihart take the news, and the suggestion to try left field?
“He was fine. I think to probably describe him would be that he would be a little disappointed, as anybody would be if they aren’t staying here. But he handled it professionally. John Farrell’s the one who told him. I was in there with Mike Hazen and with Dana and John presented to him very well because we had emphasized to him, which we heartfully meant, how important he is for us in the future, how highly we think of him as a player and as a person. We think he will be a key contributor to the Boston Red Sox for years to come. But we thought this was the best plan at this point.
“And John can tell you better than I can because he was the one involved with it in spring training, but it was even before we started playing games in spring training. This was a topic we’ve talked about. Where this is going to go? But we couldn’t tackle it during spring training because he was a No. 1 catcher, our Opening Day catcher, and we didn’t want him thinking about something else other than that at this particular moment. But he was standing in the outfield and I don’t think we had started playing regular official workouts at that time and he asked John, ‘Christian is doing pretty well.’ ‘Yeah, he is doing pretty well.’ ‘It looks like he might be back pretty quickly.’ ‘He could be.’ We had thought at one time that Christian could be ready for Opening Day. We just took our time a little more with that.
“He said, ‘What’s the plan?’ And John said, ‘We love you. We think you’re great. We like your catching and your our guy. But you might want to think about taking some fly balls in the outfield here in left field.’ It never really came to fruition because Christian never really got close to being ready Opening Day, but Blake’s response was, ‘I’ll do anything. I just want to play for the Red Sox. I just want to be ready to go and I’m ready to help wherever I can.’ He was open-minded to that and John touched on that conversation today.
Why have Swihart keep catching and play the outfield?
“Well, it’s a great question. Basically, still he’s a foul-tip away from coming back to the big leagues as a catcher. So, he needs to keep working on that skill totally. I mean, Jason Varitek, I’m sure he would tell you, he’s told me, ‘I think he’s going to be an All-Star catcher.’ That’s what Jason Varitek tells me. He knows catching better than I do. Only time will tell that. He thinks he’s going to be that good. He also says, ‘I think Christian Vazquez is a gifted receiver, like not too many others.’ So, you’re really tackling an issue that’s kind of a difficult one, but as Ruben Amaro pointed out in our meeting, he said, ‘It’s a much better situation to be talking about having talent than not having talent.’
“I think what it does, it allows us to be in a position to just analyze how it goes at this time. He’s not doing it under the microscope here. I don’t think it would be fair to him to put him in left field here and start playing him in games. We just want to try to develop both skills. And it doesn’t mean, for example, as we talked about too in our meeting, let’s say he’s catching tomorrow. Well, that particular day, he’s not going to be taking a bunch of fly balls in left field that particular day. He’s going to be focusing on catching. Doesn’t mean at 2:30 he may not go out there and here 10 minutes of instruction at some point, but we’re going to try to do things in a wise fashion.”