Rookie Dalbec mashes his way into Red Sox lineup


Bobby Dalbec knows not to put too much value in spring training statistics, and yet the Boston Red Sox rookie is putting up numbers that can’t be ignored.

“Hitting a home run never feels bad,” he said Wednesday in a teleconference from the team’s complex in Fort Myers, Florida.

Dalbec has six homers so far this spring, tying him for the most in baseball with teammate Michael Chavis and Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager. Dalbec, who according to Baseball America is the No. 3 prospect in the organization, is batting .308 and also leads the majors with 14 runs and leads the Florida teams with 13 RBIs this spring.

That’s more than enough to make manager Alex Cora overlook the 16 strikeouts in 39 at-bats.

But not enough to get him out of the No. 9 spot in the batting order.

“Somebody has to hit eighth; somebody has to hit ninth. If you look up and down our lineup, it just fits,” Cora said. “I do believe this is a great way to maximize your lineup. If you are the opposition, there’s no breathing room with us.”

A 25-year-old fourth-round draft pick who grew up in Seattle rooting for Ken Griffey Jr. and played at Arizona, Dalbec hit eight homers for Boston during the pandemic-shortened season in 2020. He batted .263 with 39 strikeouts in 23 games, most of them at first base.

Cora said he was leaning toward leaving Dalbec at the bottom of the order even though he isn’t a typical No. 9 hitter. The right-hander would follow No. 8 batter Franchy Cordero, who is also a home run threat — when healthy.

“It’s a good lineup. It’s a complete lineup,” Cora said. “It just so happens that our bottom guys, they hit for power.”

Dalbec said he is happy to bat wherever Cora puts him.

“I think the lineup speaks for itself. It’s a pretty dangerous lineup, especially when everyone is firing on all cylinders,” he said. “Hitting ninth is cool. … Sounds pretty fun to me.”

Also Wednesday, pitching coach Dave Bush said Chris Sale is progressing in his recovery from Tommy John surgery but has not yet thrown off a mound.

The seven-time All-Star had an operation to replace an elbow ligament last March and missed the entire 2020 season. The procedure typically takes 12-18 months of recovery and rehab.

“He’s moving forward at a good pace right now,” Bush told reporters. “We can map out Tommy John recovery and it’s never going to follow the plan we lay out. But, yes, the goal is to get him back at some point this year.”

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