Dalbec mum, but WooSox skipper says he's handling demotion well

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Sep. 21—WORCESTER — If Bobby Dalbec had been salty, nobody would have blamed him.

After spending two and a half seasons as the Red Sox everyday first baseman, Dalbec was optioned to the minor leagues on Sept. 4 and replaced by top prospect Triston Casas on the big league roster. The 27-year-old hadn't played at Triple-A since 2019 and his demotion was without question a discouraging professional setback.

Yet whatever disappointment he felt, he hasn't brought it into his new clubhouse.

"Tremendous. He's unbelievable actually," said Worcester Red Sox manager Chad Tracy about Dalbec's demeanor upon joining the club. "He's in a good mood, said hi to everybody, didn't mope or sulk. Honestly he's the first one to show up to work, he's out there getting ready for the game, first guy out there, he's been awesome.

"I talked to him in Scranton at one point Friday and I told him I appreciated the way he's gone about it," Tracy continued, "because it would probably be pretty easy for a guy whose spent the better part of the last two years in the big leagues and hasn't been in Triple-A in that long, you come down and it can be easy to come down and mope and he's been wonderful. It's nice having him, I'm sure he'd rather get back up there, which all these guys would, but he's handled himself like a true pro."

Dalbec, who made his Polar Park debut Tuesday after two weeks on the road, declined to speak for this story, saying he was busy getting ready for the game. Yet while he wouldn't share his own thoughts on the matter, he has certainly let his play do the talking.

Since debuting for Worcester on Sept. 7 against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Dalbec has hit five home runs with eight RBI in his first 11 games. He's batted .268 with a .326 on-base percentage, and he's played especially well lately, hitting two home runs in back-to-back games against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

"It's legitimate right-handed power, he hits them a long way. It was good to see and hopefully he can finish strong and do some more of that," Tracy said. "When he gets in the spot he was in the last two days, you stand there and it's like if they make a mistake this thing is going to get hit a long way and they did it four times in two days."

That power is familiar to those who have followed Dalbec throughout his big league career. The former fourth-round draft pick has hit 44 home runs in 267 career big league games, including 11 this year, 25 last year and eight in only 23 games as a rookie in 2020.

Dalbec's also had a tendency to hit his home runs in bunches, but the issue has always been consistency. Boasting an astronomical 34.8% career strikeout rate and a below average 7.6% walk rate, Dalbec has struggled to produce when he isn't hitting the ball out of the yard.

Tracy said since he's arrived they've worked to help him get locked back in and play to his strengths.

"I think at times he gets a little sped up and everything," Tracy said. "When he's sooner and slower and he gets stacked and gets behind the ball and he's just sitting there waiting for it, you can almost see it coming. Like, oh boy, this could get loud for the next couple of days.

"I know (hitting coach Rich Gedman) and him were working to get him back to where he wanted to be, and they got him there. As a hitter you know your feels and you can identify what's not right and get yourself back to where you need to be. He was certainly putting himself in really good positions to hit the last two or three days."

With Casas penciled in as the long-term first baseman and Eric Hosmer still with the club as well, Dalbec's future in Boston is uncertain. Yet no matter his struggles and whatever comes next, he can still finish the year strong and so far he's made the most of his opportunity.

Email: mcerullo@northofboston.com. Twitter: @MacCerullo.