Herrera wins utility job; De La Rosa, Holt to Pawtucket

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jonathan Herrera, the odds-on favorite to win the job from the time the Red Sox acquired him in a trade from Colorado for left-hander Franklin Morales, appears set to open the season as the team's utility infielder.

Herrera beat out holdover Brock Holt, his superiority at shortstop the primary factor, according to manager John Farrell. Holt was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.

“While Brock has made strides on the left side of the infield, particularly from the start of last year, we felt with the acquisition of Jonathan there was more middle-of-the-field experience and that's the choice made," Farrell said.

Herrera, a native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, has spent parts of the previous five seasons with the Rockies, appearing in 375 games. He has split most of his time between second (181) and short (114), with 43 appearances at third base. Because of his lesser familiarity with the position, the Sox have played him primarily at third this spring; he started there Thursday night and made his best play in the sixth, charging a ground ball by Francisco Cervelli and throwing him out while on the run.

The Sox made two other roster moves Thursday, optioning pitcher Rubby De La Rosa to Pawtucket and reassigning Brandon Snyder to minor-league camp. De La Rosa, who posted a 7.36 ERA in four relief appearances, giving up 13 hits and walking 3 in 7 1/3 innings, will start in Pawtucket, Farrell said. De

La Rosa, who came with pitcher Allen Webster from L.A. in the Adrian Gonzalez/Carl Crawford/Josh Beckett deal, is further along than he was last spring, when he was still coming back from Tommy John surgery.

"The biggest difference is there are no restrictions, as was last year when in the month of April it was no more than three innings, 50 pitches," Farrell said. "Those restrictions are taken off him.

"The last couple of times out, there's been a couple of adjustments made: one to his delivery, where we take him from a full delivery to one where he keeps his hands in front of his chest. We also started to add a little bit more of a curveball to the mix to give him a little bit more of an off-speed pitch [to complement his fastball and changeup]. We feel those two adjustments will help him not only command his fastball better but give him some off-speed to attack a given hitter with.

"With Rubby, it's not a matter of stuff but better location."