CLEARWATER, Fla. - More than a few heads surely turned here at 1:29 p.m. Sunday when the seven-hole hitter for the Boston Red Sox stepped into the batter's box for the first time.
Blake Swihart is the touted catching prospect the Phillies are said to covet in a potential trade involving ace Cole Hamels. The 22-year-old's name constantly surfaces in trade speculation, and will likely continue to do so until the July 31 trade deadline passes.
But while it was a bit curious that Swihart was the catcher sent on the more than two-hour trip to start against the Phillies at Bright House Field, there was nothing to it, according to the Red Sox.
"So, Blake's here because of the rotation that we've been looking for with position players the last four to five days," Boston manager John Farrell said before the game. "Get them a couple of games back-to-back, and his second day falls on today.
"This isn't a showcase."
Even so, baseball's top catching prospect offered a nice showing at the plate. Swihart, who is expected to start the season in triple A, singled twice in three at-bats and drove in a run. The switch-hitter has seven hits and four RBI in just 13 Grapefruit League at-bats.
"I think people are looking into it too much," Swihart said before the game. "This was just my turn to catch."
Ryan Howard homered, doubled and drove in two runs in the Phillies' 11-4 split-squad win against the Red Sox. Odubel Herrera tallied three of the team's spring-high 15 hits.
Chase Utley, playing again as the designated hitter, singled twice in three at-bats. Nonroster invitee Cord Phelps hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning off Justin Masterson.
In the other split-squad game, the Phillies lost to the Yankees, 3-2, in Tampa. A Chase Headley homer highlighted a decisive two-run seventh inning for the Yankees against nonroster invitee Kevin Slowey.
Cole Hamels makes his third start of the spring on Monday against the Baltimore Orioles. He is scheduled to pitch four innings. . . . Rule 5 lefthander Andy Oliver struck out the side in a scoreless eighth inning Sunday against Boston. He has allowed only two hits over five Grapefruit League innings.
- Jake Kaplan