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Bates Alive

When Mike Lowell was injured, he was replaced by Jeff Bailey, who hurt himself too, and the Sox needed a righthanded corner infielder to platoon with (an also-hobbling) Mark Kotsay. They turned to rookie Aaron Bates.

Bates is 6'4" and 25 years old. He dominated single A Lancaster in 2007 but had stalled at AA Portland since arriving their in '07. That is until this year when he eliminated a big leg kick and started kicking ass at Portland. He was called up to Pawtucket from there and eventually Boston for a week which included 3 starts.

While I think anyone had to be impressed by his game yesterday, hitting a ball down each line and a ball off the top of the centerfield wall in Fenway, what is most telling about his chances for getting another call-up this season is that Tito seems to like him defensively. That might mean we'll see him again.

Twice this week, Tito ran for Kotsay late in the game. Makes sense because Kotsay is a bit banged up in the legs. But, Tito has a ton of confidence in Kotsay (somewhat more than is warranted in this pseudo-scribe's opinion) and he would not have pulled Kotsay in close games if he weren't very confident in Bates' ability to handle the bag.

For a big kid with the power potential that Bates has, it's a good sign that he's appreciated by the big league manager for his defense and athletecism. To me, if he doesn't pan out offensively in the next couple years, I think he could have a good career as a defensive firstbaseman. I've often wondered why teams play someone like Doug Manceivitzyxrtfz who is great in the field and gets a hit bi-annually, when they could play someone almost as good defensively but who might actually surprise folks with their bat (e.g. Bates if he's 28 and hasn't earned an every day spot or, say, Carlos Pena when he was with the Sox a few years ago - you know, the guy who leads the league in homers and bats clean-up for the defending A.L. champs while winning a gold glove at first, I'm sure glad we signed Eric Hinske that off-season instead of keeping Pena to back up a then-unproven Youk (it was only 2007 when no one knew if Youk could hit with any real pop).).

Bates has a decent shot of playing an important role on this team this year. Don't you think that an athletic first baseman who can play the outfield if needed might beat out Jeff Bailey (not athletic, but a good hitter) if the Sox are looking for a righthanded back-up first basemen for the postseason? I'm just saying he might be back and that might matter.


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