PAWTUCKET — It is easy to think of the word “dominance” when considering Ryan Lavarnway’s start in Triple-A Pawtucket.

Through Thursday, Lavarnway had played 34 games in Triple-A. He’s batting .377 (49-of-130) with 12 home runs and 33 RBIs. His on-base percentage is .445. Put that with his .746 slugging average and the OPS is 1.191.

But Lavarnway is not thinking dominance. He is thinking “education,” like any good Yale man. Lavarnway knows he has learning to do.

“For me the biggest thing has been pitch sequencing — the way they’re trying to get you out,” said Lavarnway, who is a prime Red Sox pupil because he works the count until he gets a pitch he can drive.

Pitch sequencing is also helping Lavarnway on the other end. He’s learning more and more how to call a game.

“It’s the same with my pitchers, with the way we want to gets guys out,” he said. “It is a little different (in Triple-A).”


To that end, Lavarnway has worked with veteran pitchers, like Kevin Millwood and Brandon Duckworth.

“They helped guide me through the first starts,” Lavarnway said.

The eventual call for Lavarnway to join the major leagues is now a question of when, not if. The Red Sox could use a right-handed power bat. He seems a certain candidate for a call-up when major league rosters expand in September.

But if Boston wants Lavarnway as an option for the playoff roster, it would have to call him up before September. Playoff teams often carry an extra batter since less pitchers are needed.

Putting Lavarnway on Boston’s 25-man major league roster now is not so easy, since the Red Sox already have two catchers and a full-time designated hitter.

Lavarnway is not even on the 40-man roster yet, but he will be by September — which means another player will have to be taken off (designated for assignment).


The 40-man roster seems so big since it includes the major league roster, plus 15 more players. But teams run out of room in a hurry.

Even if Lavarnway was not added onto the 40-man in September, he would be in the off-season to protect him from the Rule V draft (when eligible players can be taken by other teams if they are not protected on the 40-man).

This off-season, Lavarnway would be eligible for the Rule V draft, if he is not on the 40-man, as will be Sea Dogs catcher Tim Federowicz and third baseman Will Middlebrooks. All three will be protected.

The two Taiwanese outfielders, Che-Hsuan Lin and Chih-Hsien Chiang, would also be eligible for the Rule V. But would there be room on the 40-man for them? And would they have to be protected?

* * *

Tommy Hottovy enjoyed status on both the 40-man and major league rosters recently, until he was designated for assignment.


It has been a whirlwind year for Hottovy, who began the season in Portland, moved to Pawtucket and then spent most of June in the majors as Boston’s lefty specialist.

But Hottovy was sent down when lefty Franklin Morales came off the disabled list. And when Boston wanted to promote another lefty, Randy Williams, onto the 40-man roster, Hottovy was designated for assignment (DFA).

The DFA process allows other teams to make claims on a player. If no claims are made, the player has the option of returning to the organization, on a minor league contract.

Hottovy, 30, reported back to Pawtucket on Thursday.

If there is a bright side, the DFA process gave Hottovy more time at home in Kansas City, with his wife Andrea and newborn son Cameron (delivered July 14) — all part of Hottovy’s whirlwind.

Hottovy went home before the All-Star break to be present for the delivery. The DFA process allowed him to stay an extra four days.


Hottovy strolled through the clubhouse Thursday, showing off a picture of Cameron on his cell phone.

With his new status, Hottovy will be a minor league free agent at the end of the year, the same status as last year, when he re-signed with Boston.

Some other prospective minor league free agents include outfielder Daniel Nava (also designated for assignment this year), infielder Nate Spears, and relievers Jason Rice, Blake Maxwell and Kyle Fernandes.

* * *

The question of the week involves Chiang, Middlebrooks and Sea Dogs outfielder Alex Hassan.

Chiang is batting .331 through Thursday, with 17 home runs and 70 RBIs. His Eastern League-leading OPS is 1.036. This is his second season in Portland.

Hassan leads the league with a .430 on-base percentage. He is batting .304, with a .889 OPS. Hassan works counts so well against Double-A pitchers.

Middlebrooks is hitting .310, with 12 home runs and 56 RBIs. Along with his play at third base, Middlebrooks is emerging as one of the top (if not the top) non-pitching prospects for the Red Sox.

When will they be in Pawtucket?

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