PAWTUCKET – Luis Exposito finally heard the words he’s longed to hear – the catching responsibilities for the Pawtucket Red Sox are his and his alone.
No longer is Exposito subjected to a strict platoon partnership, one that can test even the most patient of souls. Thanks to Ryan Lavarnway’s promotion to Boston and the Red Sox shipping off prospect Tim Federowicz at the July 31 trade deadline, the 24-year-old Exposito holds the title as the primary backstop.
Naturally, PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler wasted little time in delivering the message to Exposito.
“Arnie let me know that I’m going to catch and to take advantage of the situation,” said Exposito prior to making his ninth start Monday night. “That’s what I’m going to do … take advantage of the chance and show them what I’ve got.”
Said Beyeler: “He’s been in a couple of different situations this year that were good for him where he was the guy and then he wasn’t the guy. Now he’s back to being the guy so he’s been on a roller coaster with that stuff. It’s a learning experience whenever you have to split time.
“To watch Lavarnway go to the big leagues, you sit back and realize that you’ve got to get back after it again,” Beyeler continued. “I think those kinds of things a lot of times get overlooked in the development process, the mental stuff that these guys deal with, let alone the physical. It may be, ‘This is guy is going up, why isn’t it me?’ or ‘How come I have to catch this guy?’ It’s all part of their development.”
In Beyeler’s eyes, one area where Exposito has made noticeable gains this season has been his game-calling skills. Such improvement can be traced to working with a veteran pitching staff with guys such as Brandon Duckworth and Scott Atchison driving home the importance of count management.
“The veteran guys talk a lot to those guys about how to get hitters out and how they approach certain guys,” Beyeler said. “The two-strike breaking ball is a little different and the catcher’s ability to know the pitch is coming, and getting out to block, it are things that don’t show up in the boxscore. They just have to learn it.”
“The most important thing I’ve learned is how to work with a staff, how to communicate and have a good relationship with these guys,” Exposito said.
Exposito entered Monday hitting .239 – up substantially from the .212 mark he sported on May 18 – with seven home runs and 32 RBI. He remains an intriguing option for the Red Sox to consider as a possible September call-up based on his inclusion on the 40-man roster and because Boston appears comfortable with Lavarnway as a DH/right-handed-bat-of-the-bench possibility.
With so few off days available and the team in the midst of 28-game stretch that will end on the final day of the regular season, Beyeler was asked how he goes about making sure his players stay fresh for the stretch run.
“My job is to work these guys in and out of the lineup within the realm of what’s going on,” said the skipper. “We’ve tried to give some guys some days off. We’re managing them how we see fit while trying to put a good team on the field to win some ballgames.”
Beyeler isn’t as much concerned about the veteran types who have been through the grind before. The players he keeps close tabs on include Triple-A newcomer Jose
Iglesias and first baseman Lars Anderson, who has missed only five of Pawtucket’s 129 games to date.
“You have to give Iggy (Iglesias) his days because he hasn’t been through a whole season. This is the most games he’s played since he’s been playing,” Beyeler said.
“He’s tired physically but mentally you try and keep him going.
“A guy like [Brett] Carroll has been on the waiver wire. Plus [Drew] Sutton has had time off. [Daniel] Nava had a week off earlier in the year,” Beyeler went on. “Lars is the one that’s grinded it out and has done a great job with that but you’ve got to take care of those guys too.”
EXTRA BASES: Ryan Kalish was given Monday off. The outfielder is hitting .189 (7-for-37) since coming off the disabled list Aug. 8. “He has his good days and bad days still. We’ve just kind of keep him feeling good when he plays,” Beyeler said.
“Right now it’s about him getting reps and being able to get reps and working his way back slowly.” … The hope is that infielder/outfielder Drew Sutton can start ramping up his workload later this week. Sutton has been on the D.L. since Aug. 5 with a right finger contusion. “He’s still got the splint. It’ll be more of a tolerance thing once he gets the stitches out,” Beyeler said.
Randy Williams is expected to clear waivers this afternoon at 1 o’clock. The left-handed reliever was designated for assignment last Thursday to create 40-man roster space for Lavarnway.
PawSox reliever Jason Rice was awarded the Sullivan Tire Spirit Award Monday. The award is presented annually to the Pawtucket player who has demonstrated community awareness throughout the season.