We had a sense that Willy Garcia had suffered the worse of the collision with Yoan Moncada, because, hell, just look at this:
Now that the swelling has subsided, the picture of the damage is clearer: a broken jaw, which will cost Garcia most of the rest of the regular season.
That opens up an opportunity for Nicky Delmonico, which is considerable silver lining. I can’t take my eyes off him, in the same way one can’t take their eyes off the scoreboard during the shell-game-with-caps between innings. If you missed one even one small part of his evening, you can only guess how the whole thing went.
After all, the same guy who made this catch ...
... didn’t make this catch ...
But even if you flipped channels — or tables or TVs — in disgust, you missed something else before the play was over.
Why 7 when you can 7-6-2?
Delmonico is new to left field, which makes a start in front of the Green Monster a form a rookie hazing. Hanley Ramirez couldn’t figure out Fenway’s left field even after a full season of reps.
However, Ramirez got to try left field after racking up 1,400 hits, batting .300 and earning a four-year, $88 million contract from the Red Sox. When it didn’t work out, the Red Sox had to figure out how to accommodate his bat.
With Delmonico, he’s going to have to be the malleable one, and left field is going to have to be the spot, because consistency at third base eluded him. Take the above highlights and apply it to the infield, where converting batted balls into outs requires an extra couple of steps beyond gathering them into the glove.
It’s never been for a lack of trying. Rick Renteria said as much when assessing the rookie, although he picked a different way:
"He has worked through a lot of adversity and he's the type of player we want," Renteria said. "I've said it before, I think you can kind of count the 'it' factor. He's probably going to be a movie star after he finishes playing baseball."
Delmonico has more of “it” at the plate, which shows that his work can pay off. He got on top of his strikeout problem and cut his K rate by 10 percent year-over-year in Charlotte, and he’s been under control in his first exposure to MLB pitching.
He’s 3-for-11 with a walk and three strikeouts over his first series-plus, with more firsts crossed off on Thursday. Against Rick Porcello, Delmonico tenderized a juicy hanger for his first homer and first three RBIs.
Delmonico’s a fun player to follow over the final two months of a rebuilding season, because the low stakes allow everybody to maintain the required patience and hope he can shore up his glovework to be playable in left. If the control of the strike zone carries over to the big leagues, the at-bats won’t be empty. And if Thursday is any indication, “Nicky D” will be two things instead of one. The mistakes might be maddening, but they could also be hilarious, and Delmonico could turn out to be useful enough to tolerate the adventures either way.