BOSTON — Like most rookies, Michael Chavis has been faced with a myriad of challenges in his first big league season.
When scouting reports on the young power hitter came into focus, opponents began to expose him with elevated fastballs and breaking balls in the dirt. Chavis took a few lumps and battled through slumps, but nothing has been as frustrating as what he’s experienced the last three weeks.
“Feeling useless,” Chavis said.
Laying out for a blooper last month, he sprained an AC joint in his shoulder and landed on the injured list. It was Chavis’ first IL stint as a big leaguer, and he quickly found that life on the shelf isn’t for him.
“Obviously I’m here for a reason,” Chavis said. “I worked my butt of throughout the season and preparing for the season to be here and then just to have something unfortunate like this happen... I mean, it’s nice to stay in the clubhouse and the dugout, to be with the team, but then you’re sitting (during) the game and you see something happen where you’re like, ‘I could help the team in this situation.’
“It kind of sucks just being there and literally being useless.”
Fortunately for Chavis, that useless feeling shouldn’t last much longer; the infielder may return as soon as this weekend.
Though he’s been banged up before, it’s a totally different feeling at this level.
“In the minor leagues it’s not really about winning, it’s about development obviously,” Chavis said. “So when you’re on the (IL) it’s like, ‘Just get better so that we can get back to development.’ Up here it’s about winning the ballgames and helping the team. You can’t do any of that when you’re on the (IL).
“I’m trying to be a good teammate and help everybody out, being encouraging and stuff like that, but there’s only so much you can do. You can only slap so many butts and be like, ‘good job.’ You know what I mean?”
Before his injury, Chavis was in the midst of a strong rookie season. The 23-year-old was hitting .258 with 18 homers and 58 RBIs, and he’d played three different infield positions in his 95 games.
The baseball gods may have handed Chavis lemons, but he’s done his best not to be soured by them.
“It was a nice experience to just watch the game from a different perspective,” Chavis said. “Even when you’re on the bench you’re preparing to go into the game. Just knowing that I’m not going to play because I’m on the DL obviously, getting to watch the game with that perspective, you get to kind of slow things down and see them from a different perspective.
“The game just slows down,” he added. “When I’m watching the game trying to play it, I’m watching the pitcher in a way where I’m getting ready to face him. I’m not watching the positioning of the shortstop or things like that. If we’re on defense I’m not watching the swing that the opposing player is taking, I’m watching the game and what’s playing out there. So getting to watch the mechanical differences, the approaches, the sequences and stuff that you don’t really get to pay attention to is nice.”
While the glass-half-full approach is a good one to have, Chavis will be happy to have his player’s-eye view back as soon as he can.
Chris Mason is a Red Sox beat writer for the Gloucester Daily Times and CNHI Sports Boston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter at @ByChrisMason