FORT MYERS, Fla. — From the moment he signed a minor league contract with the Red Sox on Jan. 31, Lyle Overbay knew this was coming. The Red Sox mentioned to him then that they would likely be bringing in others to compete for the job of a left-handed hitting first baseman/left fielder to provide more roster depth.
So when he was spoken to by John Farrell and general manager Ben Cherington Wednesday, he was hardly caught off guard when told the Red Sox acquired left-handed hitting first baseman/outfielder Mike Carp from Seattle for a player to be named.
“I think that’s big; that shows you how respectful they are,” Overbay said. “Ben was the same way. Those type things are just something you are very, very welcome and thankful they’re able to do that.”
What did Farrell and Cherington tell Overbay?
“Same thing. I knew coming in that they might make a trade,” Overbay said. “It’s the same thing. If I want to compete and compete and see. It’s early. It’s not like it’s a week from opening day. It’s early. It’s not that big of a deal.”
As reporters approached his locker Wednesday after workouts, he showed a sense of humor, asking very rhetorically, ‘What do you want to talk about?’”
The 36-year-old Overbay says he embraces the competition with the 26-year-old Carp.
“You bring guys in here to win games and to give options because you never know those unknowns. I think that was their biggest thing, was playing the outfield and first base [against right-handed pitching]. I think that’s why Nava is taking ground balls at first. I knew all that coming into it. It’s not that big of a surprise. I just do what I can and see if I fit. That’s all I can do.
“It’s got to all work out. I know some of the numbers [matter]. I know John has to feel comfortable with four outfielders if he goes with me, that kind of thing. Those are little things when it comes down to it. I have to show I can perform so it’s yes and no.”
Overbay says he’s not concerned that he signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox, making his potential release relatively painless for the team. Additionally, Carp comes into camp automatically on the 40-man roster (Ryan Kalish was moved to 60-day DL to make room) while Overbay is simply on a minor league invite to big league camp with no 40-man spot guaranteed.
“I haven’t even thought about that really,” Overbay said. “I think it might. It just depends. I don’t want to sit here and say that yeah, ‘that works out for him.’ He’s got to come in here and prove it, too. I think it is [about] how it all works out and make sure everything works out.
I’m going to go out there and do what I have to do to get ready for the season. I think they know that. There’s things you can look at, your bat speed, all those kind of things that don’t really pertain to the numbers and getting hits. It’s approach and having good at-bats. That’s what I’m worried about because I’ve had spring trainings where I’ve been aggressive, trying to get that hit, and I go into the season and I struggle because I’m not ready for that off-speed and all that. They know that so as long as we’re communicating. They what kind of good at-bats and swings [look like].”
What it really comes down to for Overbay is making the best possible case he can beginning this weekend with the start of spring training games.
“I think they have a pretty good idea,” Overbay said of his career numbers of .270/.353/.791 OPS in 12 big league seasons. “It’s just a matter of making sure of what I’ve got. I have my track record but I have to make sure that track record is there [in spring training results]. I think that’s what they’re looking for.”