Christian Arroyo will be checking off another box on his “first time in his career” list when the Red Sox take on the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Sunday night.
After pitching and being used as a pinch-runner for the first time in his five-year big-league career at different points earlier this season, Arroyo will be making his first-ever start at first base in Sunday’s series finale in the Bronx.
The 26-year-old infielder has never played first base before at the minor- or major-league level, but will be doing so in the rubber match of this three-game series with Jarren Duran getting the start in center field and Kiké Hernández sliding over to second base as a result.
Arroyo was seen taking grounders at first base on Thursday with quality control coach Ramon Vazquez giving him some pointers, and he will now have the opportunity to take what he learned and apply it to an actual game.
So far this season, Red Sox first baseman have arguably been one of the least productive position groups in all of baseball, as they came into play Sunday sporting a collective .204/.249/.366 slash line to go along with an MLB-worst .266 weighted on-base average and 62 wRC+.
It’s unclear at the moment if Arroyo, who has been one of the better defensive second basemen in the American League to this point in the year, represents a permanent change for Boston at first base or if this is just a temporary move.
“We’re comfortable with it,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of starting Arroyo at first base. “He’s earned his playing time, let’s put it that way. He’s putting [together] good at-bats, he’s hitting good pitching, and he deserves to start. He’s comfortable with it, I’m comfortable with it, so we’ll go from there.”
With Arroyo — a right-handed hitter — getting the start at first base on Sunday, that puts Bobby Dalbec — also a right-handed hitter — in a bit of a tough spot in which he will be limited to facing just left-handed pitching for the time being.
“The way he swung the bat the first two days here, he deserves to play,” said Cora in regards to Arroyo. “With Bobby, obviously, he’ll play against lefties –we’ll use him against lefties. There’s going to be a few righties that we’ll use, but as of today, it’s Christian against their righty. And we’ll go from there the rest of the week.”
All that being said, Arroyo is starting at first base and batting ninth for Boston on Sunday night. Hernandez will lead off, while Duran — in his second major-league start — will bat out of the seven-hole.
Xander Bogaerts is also back and starting at shortstop after missing Saturday’s contest on account of some wrist soreness he sustained on Friday. The 28-year-old All-Star is batting cleanup in between J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers, per usual.
Here is how the rest of the Red Sox (56-37) will lineup behind left-hander Martin Perez and against Yankees (47-44) right-hander Jameson Taillon.
First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. eastern time on ESPN.
(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Michael Owens/Getty Images)