Holt plays key role with sparkling defense

Utility man makes two fielding gems at shortstop to key win over Rays

Holt plays key role with sparkling defense

ST. PETERSBURG -- Starting for the fourth straight day, and at a fourth position over that span, Brock Holt again made a big contribution in Boston's 1-0 win over the Rays on Tuesday.

This time, Holt was at shortstop, and it was his defense that stood out.

Holt made a strong diving play up the middle in the third to take a hit away from Rene Rivera. Daniel Nava made a sweet pick at first to make it stand up.

Holt's diving stop

In the seventh, Holt ranged deep in the hole and again stopped the ball on a dive before firing to first to nail pinch-hitter Asdrubal Cabrera.

On both plays, quick releases and strong throws paved the way for the outs to be made.

"The thing that really has stood out the last year or so as we've gotten to the left side of the infield is his arm strength," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He pops up and makes good strong throws and we didn't know how strong his arm was because he came to us primarily as a second baseman. Over the course of a couple of years he's lengthened it out, he's gained some arm strength and it shows up tonight."

Though it was hard to see where Holt might get his playing time this season in a much-improved lineup for the Red Sox, Farrell is finding ways to keep his super-utility man involved.

"Yeah, that's what I want to do," said Holt. "I want to play. John does a good job of telling me pretty early the day before that I'll be in there and where I'm playing. So I can get ready that way. I want to be in there as much as I can. Obviously there are some really good players on this team so I'm just here to help out whenever and wherever I can."

Even after an 0-for-3 performance on Tuesday, Holt has a .414 average. And he continues to earn respect from his teammates for making a difficult role look easy.

"Huge," said center fielder Mookie Betts. "That's Brock. It's kind of what I'm used to. He spoils you with how he does it and he does it everywhere. He was huge today and he's huge every game."

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