SAN DIEGO — With a chance to sweep the Padres and pick up a critical win heading into Monday’s off day, Red Sox manager Alex Cora chose to rest Brock Holt on Sunday afternoon.
Holt, having a career year, has played the hero twice in four days. He had the game-winning hit to walk off on the Royals on Thursday and then hit the eventual game-winning homer in the top of the ninth to lead the Sox over the Padres on Saturday night.
But Cora said Holt, who has started just three games in eight days, needed rest on Sunday, despite off-days coming up on Monday and Thursday.
“He’s been good, he’s been solid, but we have to take care of Brock,” Cora said. “We know his injury history. I know we have an off-day tomorrow but for him, it’s a little bit harder to bounce back from a night game. Just have to make sure we keep him healthy.”
Chris Owings, who is 1-for-13 with nine strikeouts since getting called up from Triple-A Pawtucket, got the start at second base instead of Holt.
Owings gave the Sox the platoon advantage against lefty starter Joey Lucchesi, but Owings hit just .171 with a .470 OPS vs. lefties in the minors this year.
“It’s a tough lefty and that’s what he’s here for,” Cora said. “I know he hasn’t hit lefties throughout the season, but you have to use everybody to make this happen. He’s been working hard at it and I don’t put guys in the lineup hoping they produce. I expect them to produce. This is a guy that has a role on the team. It happens that today he’s playing.”
Holt is hitting .342 with a .903 OPS since returning from a scratched cornea on May 27. He’s started in just 45 of the team’s 78 games in that span.
Cora said he’s trying to keep Holt healthy after the 31-year-old dealt with a hamstring strain last year.
“You guys have seen it the last two years,” Cora said. “Whenever he plays a lot, last year was the hammy. It’s not easy. I’m not saying he’s injury prone, but when you’re not used to playing every day, it’s hard.
“I always say he’s a lot better player than I was. But when they put me out there for 10 days, it was good. When I was playing more than 10 games, I sucked. I was bad. I have a pretty good feel for utility players and how to use them. People can get caught up in the numbers but when you overplay them, then you run into problems because physically they’re going to wear down, their swing isn’t going to be there. And then to catch up with their swing, it’s going to take a while. They need their off-days.”