Bobby Dalbec couldn’t have asked for a better big-league debut on what was a surreal day last Sunday, but he quickly and convincingly fell back to earth.
The Red Sox first baseman, called up last Sunday after the trade of Mitch Moreland, had a memorable debut in which he homered in his second career at-bat. But after that 2-for-4 day, Dalbec went 0 for his next 14 — which included nine strikeouts — as some reality set in with his new challenge in the majors.
Dalbec finally ended that drought in Saturday’s win over the Blue Jays, going 2-for-4 with a home run, to go along with some impressive defense on what was an encouraging night for the 25-year-old still getting his feet wet at the highest level.
“It felt good,” Dalbec said. “I just made a couple of tweaks, timing stuff, and stopped pressing a little bit. It felt good to get that one today.”
The big first baseman stopped his rut in the second inning as he completed the Red Sox’ first three-homer inning of the season, taking a 3-2 cutter and blasting it on a line drive that barely cleared the Green Monster and smashed into a cardboard cutout in the front row. It was a missile that left the bat at 110.2 mph.
— Red Sox (@RedSox) September 6, 2020
After a rough welcome to the league this week, it was a nice relief for Dalbec as he rounded the bases.
“Huge for him,” Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said. “He’s been battling and frustrated and then he comes through with a nice home run and it’s just, this is a strange game where you can feel really bad and then the next thing you know, you’re a hero, so good to see him get that. Hopefully that relaxes him some. …
“Tim (Hyers) and Pete (Fatse) had talked to him and mechanically changed some things, tweaked some things for him, and that first at-bat was great.”
Dalbec explained that he was getting stuck on his backside at the plate, which forced him to spin and tie himself up. He said it was frustrating because he was seeing the ball well, but mechanically wasn’t right with his swing and positioning.
“I think I did a better job handling it than I have in the past,” Dalbec said. “Obviously it was pretty tough but I just tried to stay mentally tough and grind through it. Those things happen. Not the last time something like that is going to happen so I just have to get better with dealing with it and getting ahead of it quicker.”
Dalbec will obviously have to continue to adjust as pitchers approach him differently, and he’ll need to overcome his high strikeout rate, something that’s followed him throughout his development. He’s already struck out 12 times in 22 at-bats, which included another one in a big spot on Saturday.
Roenicke understands it’s something they’ll need to continue working on with him.
“It’s been the case that they’ve been working on this throughout the minor leagues,” Roenicke said. “We know that when he makes more contact because of the tremendous power that he has, that the doubles and homers show up a lot. So it’s him trying to work on making sure he’s on time for the fastball. He’s a pretty good breaking ball hitter, and being more consistent with it because if we can get that consistency, we’ve got a really good player and so sometimes these big guys with power, you have to deal with the strikeouts from them, and that’s what we’re dealing with.”