Leon jumps right into learning new pitchers

New acquisition eager for opportunity in Boston

Leon jumps right into learning new pitchers

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The crash course of new catcher Sandy Leon to all things Red Sox took a fitting start on Tuesday, when he had four different batterymates in his five innings of work during an improbable 11-8 victory over the Rays.

Leon even got a hit in his debut, belting a single up the middle in his second at-bat.

A little more than 24 hours ago, Leon was a Washington National. By Tuesday afternoon, after learning the signs his new team uses, he was crouched behind the plate wondering exactly what kind of tail Edward Mujica has on his fastball.

An inning later, he got to know Junichi Tazawa. And then lefty Tommy Layne. The stint ended with Leon catching Anthony Varvaro for two innings, meaning he probably even remembered his first and last name by the end of it.

It was a lot to digest, but an exciting opportunity for a catcher who has a much better chance to crack the Opening Day roster with his new team than his old one.

"The first inning, I was kind of nervous. I wanted to do good," said Leon. "But after the first inning, I was feeling good. That's a good way for me to understand all the relievers, all the different things they can do."

Leon says he's a quick study when it comes to the pitchers with whom he works.

"I'm really good. It might take a couple of weeks to know all the pitchers, all their names, their last names, but I'm good at that," said Leon.

The opportunity for Leon opened up when catcher Christian Vazquez sustained a right elbow injury that will keep him out for at least a few weeks, if not longer.

Shortly after Leon arrived at Boston's Spring Training facility on Monday, Vazquez was already trying to help him learn the pitchers.

"I know him very well. We're really good friends. We talked about the pitchers," Leon said. "I know a couple of those guys. So that's good that I know him."

The Red Sox are looking forward to get to know Leon, who will form a catching tandem with Ryan Hanigan if he makes the team.

"It looked like he had a pretty good feel for reading some swings and receiving guys he's never seen before," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "So he's quiet behind the plate and those are things we saw that are pretty clear in our scouting reports prior to getting him. So anything other than that -- we're five innings into our observation, so like I said before the game, he'll have Clay [Buchholz] tomorrow in one of the games."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.