Brock Holt doing it all for Sox

BOSTON -- David Ross had a conversation with Brock Holt. “I asked him the other day if he can catch," Ross said. “I might be out of a job."

Not to worry.

“I’m going to leave that one to him and [A.J.] Pierzynski," Holt said. “One foul tip off my mask, I’d be done."

Everything else, however, seems to be fair game for the Red Sox rookie, who in Tuesday night’s 2-1 win over the Minnesota Twins debuted at his third new position, center field, and made the kind of play that would make a veteran proud. Holt, who was shaded to right center, rescued left fielder Jonny Gomes when he lost Brian Dozier’s third-inning fly ball in the opaque twilight, diving backwards to make a catch after hustling to back up the play.

Red Sox manager John Farrell called it “the third-inning recovery play."

“I don’t know how else to describe it," he said. “When a ball is lost in the twilight he comes out of nowhere, makes a diving catch. In a way, he took over the inning because he leads off [the bottom of the third] with a double, steals third and scores on a sacrifice fly that ends up being the difference tonight."

Sox starter Jon Lester, who had endured a 33-pitch first inning but emerged unscathed when he induced Kendry Morales, the Twins’ new DH, to pop out, appreciated that Holt brought to a close an inning that would have continued if Dozier’s ball had landed safely.

“Huge," Lester said. “It seems like Brock each game has an effect on what’s going on. Two great at-bats tonight, steals third, produces a run for us.

“I didn’t know where the ball was. Jonny was running in, Dirt [shortstop Stephen Drew] was running out, guys were pointing and screaming and yelling, and all of a sudden Brock dives out of nowhere in left center."

From the dugout, Farrell said dryly, “Jonny didn’t look like he had a bead on it."

Holt’s first clue?

“I looked over and saw Gomes’ arms were out," he said. “He never picked it up. I ran to the wrong spot. That’s why I had to [dive]."

Holt kept alternating between looking at Gomes, to see if he would catch sight of the ball, and looking at the ball. “I noticed he wasn’t running toward the ball, and it was behind him."

As beautiful as the night was, it can be treacherous.

“Twilight here is really a tough time for everybody,” Ross said. “That gray sky right there at dusk is really tough.”

Holt, though, said he had a better angle than Gomes, and was able to detect it against the tough backdrop.

“The biggest thing that impressed me," Lester said, “especially for a guy who hasn’t played much outfield, is to be backing up and running that ball down. A smart baseball player."

Holt finished the game in right field, another new position, when Jackie Bradley Jr. took center in the ninth as a defensive replacement.

The unfamiliar surroundings didn’t impact Holt's performance at the plate. He had two hits, a single in the first in addition to his double, and scored both Boston runs.

“He seems to hit more doubles off that wall than anybody I’ve seen in my short time here," Ross said. “He’s been a great spark for us."

This, remember, was a guy who couldn’t even win the backup infield job coming out of camp.

“You’d hardly know it was his first game in center field," Lester said. “I’m sure we’ll see him in catcher’s gear or on the mound at some point this year. The guy’s done an unbelievable job."

The constant shuffling?

“A lot of fun," Holt said. “New challenge, I enjoyed it. I’m enjoying the challenge of moving around."

So are the Sox.

“The best way to wrap it up -- he’s a good baseball player," Farrell said. “And I say that in general, but he understands the game, he’s athletic, he’s got speed. I think he’s improved his base stealing and overall base running from the time we got him here. I think, more than anything, he’s really flourishing in the flexibility we’re providing for him.”