3/16/2013 6:45 P.M. ET
Swihart makes the most of his opportunity
By Evan Drellich and Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- For most, it was an inconsequential late-inning Spring Training game move, one fairly typical for this time of year. For Blake Swihart, however, it was much more than that.
The switch-hitting catcher, who is ranked No. 9 on both the Red Sox Top 20 Prospects list, as well as the Top 10 catching prospects list, got his first taste of big league Grapefruit League action on Sunday afternoon, when he entered the game as a defensive replacement, taking over behind the plate for Ryan Lavarnway, in the eighth inning. He doubled in two runs in the ninth.
"I was very excited," Swihart said. "This is my first time I've been able to do it. I didn't know if I was going to get to play or not, but being able to get in was a lot of fun."
After some early jitters -- Swihart admitted that his first throw down to second base after pitcher Chris Martin's warmup tosses wasn't his finest effort -- he settled down and was able to truly soak up the experience. He enjoyed it even more when right-hander Dane De La Rosa came in with a fastball with two outs in the ninth. Batting left-handed, Swihart lined it to right to bring in a pair of runs. He would eventually come around to score in the 9-2 rout of the Rays.
"I fell behind the first couple pitches," Swihart said. "[It was a] 3-2 count, I knew he was going to come in with a fastball because I was behind before -- and I just wanted to get my hands up there and get something on the ball. It was fun to be out there."
The Red Sox took Swihart with the 26th pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, and it took an over-slot deal to sign him away from the University of Texas. The switch-hitter spent his first full season in 2012 in the Class A South Atlantic League and played in 92 games, starting slowly, but finishing well, hitting .320 in August. He should make the move up to Class A Advanced Salem in 2013. He can feel a real difference between last year, his first Spring Training, and this one -- both in the clubhouse and behind the plate.
"I'm a lot more comfortable," Swihart said. "I know the team, I know everyone around me, it's easy to meet the new guys. It's not uncomfortable trying to say, 'Hi, I'm Blake.'
"I'm a lot more comfortable [defensively]. Not even just catching guys I've already caught, but people that I'm newly catching -- just what I've learned, techniques I've learned, it just makes it a lot easier. Camp's been going by pretty quickly. We break for the season in 15 days or something like that? I mean it's just going by pretty quick, and we're all having a little fun."
Victorino heading back to Red Sox's camp
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Red Sox could see their regular right fielder back in a Red Sox uniform as soon as Sunday.
Shane Victorino was on his way back to Fort Myers, Fla., on Saturday morning from Miami, where he and Team USA saw their World Baseball Classic run end on Friday night with a 4-3 loss to Puerto Rico. Victorino didn't have the best go of things in the tournament, finishing 1-for-11 with five strikeouts, no walks and one RBI.
Victorino may work out at camp on Saturday, and definitely will on Sunday. He may play in a 1:35 p.m. ET game at home against the Rays.
"He was anxious to get back, get going, we're anxious to get him back in camp and get him some regular at-bats, as well," Sox manager John Farrell said. "I could see him playing tomorrow. … He's in game shape, he just needs more consistency."
Getting Victorino and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury some reps together will be important in the final two weeks. Victorino could also see some time in left field this spring, at least during road games, because he could see some action there on the road in the regular season. At Fenway, he'll be the regular right fielder.
"We'll look to get some exposure [for] Shane in left field, as well," Farrell said. "In our home park, [Jonny] Gomes will be in left and [Victorino] will be in right."
Butler, Wilson among additional cuts
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Red Sox made two more cuts on Friday, bringing the day's total to five.
Catcher Daniel Butler and right-hander Alex Wilson were both optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday night, the Sox announced on Saturday. Right-handers Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster and catcher Christian Vazquez were previously known to have been sent down.
Wilson, 26, made six Grapefruit League appearances and let up one run in 7 2/3 innings, with nine strikeouts and two walks. Red Sox manager John Farrell said he hopes Wilson will get save opportunities in the Minors.
"He had a very strong spring," Farrell said. "Compared to a year ago from talking to others that saw him last year, [he had] much better mound presence, [was] more comfortable in the environment, threw a lot of strikes, didn't fear contact. And that was with each outing that he went out to the mound, and it wasn't one that stood out over the other. [He] had a good camp.
"I'm sure he'll get closing opportunities there. Because it's the highest-leverage spot in the Minor Leagues, you can create. So how he responds to that -- I'm sure he'll get some exposure late in the ninth inning."
Butler, also 26, went 3-for-10 in eight games.
The Red Sox have 46 players in Major League Spring Training, including Ryan Kalish, who's on the 60-day disabled list.
Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.