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Sports of Boston is continuing its week-long preview of the Red Sox outfield with the backups and outfield prospects.
After spending all of 2008 in AAA with the Twins, Darnell McDonald showed he could be a solid fourth outfielder for the Reds in 2009 before appearing in 117 games in 2010 with Boston. With injuries to Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury, McDonald was able to spend most of the year in the majors and his .270/.336/.429 line looked like a great pickup by the front office. Hopefully he won’t be needed as much in 2011, but being able to fill in at all three outfield positions, with some power and speed (9 homers and 9 stolen bases) makes McDonald a valuable piece at the bottom of the roster.
Ryan Kalish and Josh Reddick are the top outfield prospects in the Red Sox farm system and on many teams would probably get a crack at a starting job in spring training. This year’s version of the outfield however is crowded. Mike Cameron is likely to fill the role of fourth outfielder and McDonald any playing time left over. Because the Sox would prefer their young players to get everyday at bats rather than sit on the bench, both players are likely headed to Pawtucket for another season.
That said, Ellsbury and Cameron are coming back from serious injuries and J.D. Drew could always slip into an extended DL stint of his own should his back, shoulder, or hamstring injuries – usually nagging – become serious issues.
Daniel Nava, while the least likely to see everyday playing time, could be the Red Sox go-to player if injuries arise. Instead of calling Kalish or Reddick up because Drew needs to sit a few days or Crawford gets a bad case of the flu, Nava could be on the shuttle between AAA and the majors whenever the team thinks a DL stint could be imminent.
The Red Sox have depth in the outfield heading into 2011. With any luck, they won’t need to test it.