Vazquez to get at-bats in instructional league

Red Sox remain hopeful of catcher's readiness for Opening Day

Vazquez to get at-bats in instructional league

CHICAGO -- The first bad thing that happened to the 2015 Red Sox occurred in Spring Training, when projected starting catcher Christian Vazquez sustained a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and had to have Tommy John surgery. The good news is that Vazquez has progressed nicely during every step of his rehab and he remains on track for 2016 Opening Day.

"I think he will," said Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo. "If there's one guy we can bet on, it's Christian. He's really excited and eager to get things moving."

Vazquez will take some at-bats in the instructional league this fall, and stay on a throwing program before having some downtime over the winter.

If Vazquez plays winter ball, it would likely only be as a hitter.

His loss clearly impacted the club, particularly when backup Ryan Hanigan went down for a couple of months with a broken right hand at the beginning of May.

"Well, you know, that was a very unfortunate injury, and it's hard to predict what he would have been for our ballclub," said Lovulllo. "Obviously, [Vazquez] is a very important piece to the puzzle moving forward. What we're really concerned about right now is how he's progressing."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.