Kevin Pillar was at a good place with his swing before spring training was shut down in March. Before the start of camp, he made his way to Fort Myers to get in some extra hitting with coach Tim Hyers.
In 2019, he hit .259 with the Giants and Blue Jays. Pillar said that although he had a career highs in homers (21), RBIs (88), and OPS (.719), he struggled at times because he became pull happy, causing his mechanics to get out of sorts. So, Pillar is focused on staying up the middle, which is giving him more room for error. He was locked in throughout Florida camp, where he batted .355 in 33 plate appearances.
The COVID-19 shutdown halted some of his progression. Nevertheless, Pillar stayed on top of his work.
“I was able to put a cage in my backyard,” Pillar said Saturday afternoon. “When I left spring training, I was able to get a lot of work in. When things started to open up in Arizona, I was able to have one of my close friends, who’s in the big leagues, come over and kind of progress off the tee.”
Pillar went 1 for 3 in the Red Sox’ intrasquad game Saturday. Though he may not start, he’s an elite defender and can play all three outfield spots.
Now, however, Pillar is confident he can bring some offense to the Sox’ lineup, too.
“There’s nothing like being in this competitive environment with these really great hitting coaches,” he said. “I feel like I’m back on track. I feel like I’m trending toward getting back to where I was before all this happened.”
Eight men in
The Red Sox had just eight players playing for each team Saturday, with just two outfielders on each squad. The intrasquad game was more so about pitchers getting their work in.
Ryan Weber got the start for the home team and he gave up a good amount of hard contact throughout. He pitched four innings, tossing 64 pitches and 47 for strikes.
“The first three innings, I felt pretty good,” Weber said. “My stuff was kind of sharp. The fourth inning I got a little tired. Overall, based off the progression I think it went pretty well.”
The Sox hitters appear to be in midseason form. Andrew Benintendi continues to hit and laced a sharp liner to center off Weber. Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and J.D. Martinez each hit the ball hard, too.
“We’re really swinging the bat well, I can’t believe how many guys look well this early,” manager Ron Roenicke said.
The Sox will play an intrasquad game Sunday starting at 2 p.m.
Dalbec get clearance
Top prospect Bobby Dalbec was one of four Red Sox players to test positive for COVID-19, but Roenicke said he was cleared to return. Dalbec got his work in at Boston College on Saturday. “He hasn’t done much for a couple of weeks, so we went pretty slow with him,” Roenicke said. “He just had some ground balls to him. He threw a little bit then took some soft-toss swings in the cage.” The Sox are leaning on the medical staff to tell them what kind of work Dalbec can do going forward and what type of shape he is in. He’ll join the team at Fenway on Sunday . . . A ball struck a grounds crew worker who was in the bullpen during batting practice. He was taken off the field, sitting on a cart. The Red Sox didn’t have an update on his status.