Vaughn Grissom, right, acquired by the Red Sox in the Chris Sale trade with Atlanta, is expected to boost the offense, but his defense is in question. Boston plans to give him a chance to claim the job at second base. Tony Avelar/Associated Press

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Vaughn Grissom, who the Red Sox acquired from the Braves for Chris Sale in December, is the frontrunner to be the Opening Day starting second baseman.

“We’re going to give Vaughn a chance to run away with the position,” Manager Alex Cora said Tuesday at JetBlue Park. “I think athletic-wise, he’s capable of doing it. And now we’ve got to get him up to speed with everything that goes on in that position.”

Grissom’s offense is ahead of his defense at this point. Numerous scouts were asked about Grissom when the Red Sox acquired him. Their evaluations of his defense varied.

“I think he got into the habit of being too fast on some routine plays in the infield and is in need of more game-speed experience,” one scout said. “I guess I see him as an offense-first shortstop option who would, ultimately, fit better at second base.”

Another scout called his defense “underwhelming” while a third said “he really can’t play shortstop” and likely will be “limited to either second base or a corner outfield spot.”

Grissom has extra-base power. His right-handed bat should help a Red Sox lineup that is very heavy with left-handed hitters. That said, the Red Sox are still in the market for another right-handed hitter.


“That’s something we’ve talked about but it hasn’t happened,” Cora said. “We’ve still got a few weeks before Opening Day. In 2018, we were lacking the same thing and two weeks into spring training, boom, that happened (signed J.D. Martinez). These people are working hard. They are trying to trade for people, sign people.

“You name it, they’ve done it. It’s not lack of work. It just hasn’t happened. We know where we’re at offensively. We know we’re very left-handed. But at the same time, the left-handed hitters that we have, they’re really good, too.”

• Since he was hired last November, Chief Baseball Officer Craig Breslow has stressed that he doesn’t like the idea of a full-time DH on his roster, preferring to emphasize flexibility.

But someone is going to have fill those at-bats and Tuesday, Alex Cora said he expects Masataka Yoshida to see more playing time in the DH spot than anyone else.

“I’m not really sure (how many games that will mean),” said Cora. “And I’m not saying he’s the DH. But out of the group, he’ll get the most at-bats.”

In years past, this wasn’t an issue. From 2003 until his retirement in 2016, David Ortiz was the team’s everyday DH. Then, from 2018 through 2022, that job was mostly J.D. Martinez’s. In 2023, the Sox signed Justin Turner with the DH role in mind, though he also got playing time at first base and, occasionally, second.


The Red Sox did not aggressively pursue Turner in the offseason and he signed with Toronto last month.

That left a gaping hole in the Red Sox’s lineup that Yoshida will be tasked with filling more than any other player. It’s expected the team will make an effort to rotate both Rafael Devers and Triston Casas through the DH spot, too.

In his first season with the Red Sox, Yoshida slashed .289/.338/.445 with 15 homers and 72 RBI. But his defense was well below average in left field, where he registered a -4 in defensive runs saved. His range and arm strength were also sub-par.

The addition of two-time Gold Glove award-winner Tyler O’Neill, acquired in a trade with the Cardinals, gives the Red Sox an upgrade in left field. Cora said that Jarren Duran and Rob Refsnyder could also see time in left field.

Cora added that should Ceddanne Rafaela make the major league team, it would likely be as the starting center fielder. Rafaela is seen as a plus-plus defender, but there are questions about his readiness to face major league pitching because of poor swing decisions.

“It’s just a matter of how we feel about it,” said Cora. “We know the defensive game is elite. It’s a game-changer and you’ve seen throughout the years organizations have made efforts to improve the defense and taking the at-bats. The Phillies did it last year, and I think Toronto did it last year, too. We’ll sit down as a group toward the end (of spring training) and decide what we want. If we’re comfortable with the kid playing center field, understanding that there’s going to be struggles at the big league level with the offensive part of it, then we’ll go that way.


“If we feel like he needs to go to the minor leagues and keep getting better and keep improving, we’ll do that, too.”

Yoshida will not be a stranger to the DH spot, having spent 49 games in that role last season.

TELEVISION: Veteran baseball broadcaster Jenny Cavnar is the new primary play-by-play announcer for the Oakland Athletics, hired by NBC Sports California.

Cavnar becomes the first woman to handle primary play-by-play duties in major league history – set to be the voice for most of the A’s games during the upcoming 2024 season.

She has covered baseball for 17 of her 20 years in the media business, most recently calling Colorado Rockies games the past 12 years as a backup play-by-play announcer while also hosting pregame and postgame shows and regional coverage.

She became the first woman in a quarter-century to handle play-by-play for an MLB game in 2018. She is a graduate of Colorado State University and former college lacrosse player.


Giants Solers Baseball

Jorge Soler, who hit 36 home runs with the Marlins last season, has reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with the San Francisco Giants. Gregory Bull/Associated Press

GIANTS: Slugging free agent outfielder and designated hitter Jorge Soler has agreed to a $42 million, three-year contract with San Francisco, according to a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal was pending a successful physical. San Francisco President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi was still hopeful of upgrading his roster ahead of the start of spring training this week and will have a slugger to give new manager Bob Melvin more depth in the outfield.

The 31-year-old from Cuba was a first-time All-Star last season with Miami. Soler played 137 games for the Marlins last season, batting .250 with 36 home runs and 75 RBI. He spent 102 games as DH.

The games played were third-most in his 10-year big league career with the Chicago Cubs, Kansas City, Atlanta and the Marlins. He appeared in all 162 games for the Royals in 2019, then 149 during with Kansas City and the Braves in 2021.

ROCKIES: Colorado said reliever Daniel Bard will have surgery Wednesday to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

There’s no timetable for Bard’s return. Rockies pitchers and catchers report Wednesday for physicals before the start of spring training in Scottsdale, Arizona., a day ahead of Colorado’s first workout.


Bard got hurt last week during a throwing session, according to The Denver Post. Bard is entering the the final season of a $19 million, two-year deal.

MARLINS: Two-time batting champion Luis Arraez tried to win for the second straight year in salary arbitration, asking a panel for $12 million instead of the Miami Marlins’ $10.6 million offer.

A decision by Keith Greenberg, Stephen Raymond and Richard McNeill is expected Wednesday.

Arraez won the 2022 AL batting title for Minnesota when he hit .316 with eight homers and 49 RBI, then was traded to Miami in January 2023 and won in arbitration when a panel picked his $6.1 million rather than the Marlins’ $5 million. Arraez then captured the NL batting title, setting career highs with a .354 average, 10 homers and 69 RBI.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.