GLENDALE, Ariz. — Peter Bourjos, who appeared to be the leading candidate to open the season as the Sox’ center fielder, is headed to the Rays for cash considerations, a major-league source said.
An announcement will be made Tuesday.
The move opens the door for prospect Jacob May to begin the season in center. He’s hitting .339 with an .886 OPS while playing good defense.
Bourjos, 29, owns a lifetime .243/.300/.382 slash line. He batted .313 this spring after coming in as a non-roster invitee.
Bourjos took advantage of the playing time he received after Charlie Tilson suffered a stress reaction in his right foot early in camp. Tilson, who will wear a walking boot for another three weeks, had the inside track on the center-field job when camp opened.
Swarzak has shot at long relief
Sox right-hander Anthony Swarzak touched 97 mph in a game last week, which for him, at age 31, was uncharted territory.
Swarzak is used to throwing a 93-94 mph four-seamer, which he featured with the Twins, Indians and Yankees.
This spring, he has had a little more life on his pitches, which he attributes to better timing in his delivery as well as the conditioning and training staff.
“The strength and conditioning program here has really helped me because it’s power-based,” Swarzak said. “I’ve never been a big workout guy, but I’m really getting stronger here in camp, and my stuff is showing because of it.”
Swarzak, a non-roster invitee who had a 5.52 ERA in 26 relief appearances with the Yankees last season, has consistently been in the strike zone. He’s getting ahead in counts and getting his slider over for strikes. He has a good chance at making the Opening Day roster as a long reliever.
“When I touched 97 mph, that’s as high as I’ve been my entire career,’’ he said. “So I’m heading in the right direction.’’
In six appearances this spring, Swarzak has allowed four runs with 12 strikeouts and two walks in 9„ innings.
Ode to Blanco
Geovany Soto gives high praise to former Cubs catcher Henry Blanco, who took him under his wing when he was a young catcher with the Cubs in 2009. Soto wants to do the same for young Sox catchers such as Omar Narvaez.
“I’m the older guy helping all the young guys and trying to get them through what Blanco got me through,’’ Soto said.
Soto, 34, a non-roster invitee, figures to share time with the 25-year-old Narvaez, a left-handed hitter.
It seemed a foregone conclusion that Kevan Smith, who has caught more games (12) than Soto (nine) and fared well defensively while hitting .400 this spring, would start the season in Class AAA.
Third baseman Matt Davidson came to camp with an inside track at getting the bulk of at-bats at DH this season, but the 26-year-old leads the team with 23 strikeouts this spring while batting .259. Davidson, however, does have three homers and a double. He also went 2-for-3 while playing first base Monday.
“You get a little frustrated when you’re not seeing results, but you can’t press, which I was doing a little because you want to see results right away,’’ Davidson said. “I started slow, but the timing and everything, every at-bat feels great, feels better.’’
Davidson is out of options. The Sox risk losing him if he doesn’t make the 25-man roster.
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