Lavarnway is Making Progress at First Base

By: Isaac Moore

FORT MYERS, FL – This spring, Ryan Lavarnway is making the difficult transition of going from catcher to first base. Luckily, he has a teammate who made the same switch last year.

Photo by Corbis
Photo by Corbis

For the majority of his 10 year career, Mike Napoli was a catcher. But after signing with the Red Sox in 2013, he became an every-day starter at first base.

“It’s a totally different game. You’re not getting the ball every time,” says Napoli. “It’s tough but you got to put the work in to get better every day.”

According to Napoli, footwork was the key to his success. And that’s the message that Red Sox infield coach, Brian Butterfield is teaching to Ryan Lavarnway.

“The most important thing is learning his footwork around the base because he’s handeling the welfare of his shortstop, his second baseman, and his third baseman,” says Butterfield. “We always try to deal with their footwork first.”

Butterfield said that although the transition can be hard, Lavarnway’s athleticism will allow him to make the switch successfully. He says that catchers have an advantage when playing a corner infield position.

Photo by Corbis Nava (Left), Hassan (Center), Lavarnway (Right)
Photo by Corbis
(L-R) Nava, Hassan, Lavarnway

“The one advantage he does have is that he’s played in a crouch for a long time,” says Butterfield. “That’s one of the advantages that catchers have when they make that move but he’s still trying to get acquainted to playing with his feet wider and his glove out in front.”

Overall, Butterfield is pleased with Lavarnway’s progress through the first few weeks of spring training. He says that many of the people within organization are impressed with his ability to pick up the position and are excited for his future.