FORT MYERS, Fla. - This was going to be an uphill climb for Travis Shaw from Day 1.
The 31-year-old, who is just three season removed from the second of two straight 30-plus-home-run seasons, got limited interest from major league teams after the end of the lockout. By limited, we mean, the Red Sox and not really much else.
And even though Shaw had proved his worth with the Red Sox throughout a 28-game stretch, that included a spot on the postseason roster, there was just three weeks to break from a minor-league deal and find his way on the 28-man roster.
This weekend, he managed to finish what he set out to do when returning to the Red Sox. He made the team.
"Yeah, it is," said Shaw when asked if it was a good feeling to be told he was headed with the Red Sox to New York for the April 7 opener. "Spring started off slow but over the last four, five or six days the at-bats got to be where they need to be. I feel pretty good at the plate. I’m going to be in the same role I was last year, which I felt I did a pretty decent job at it, so just kind of roll with it at the beginning of the season."
While the Red Sox haven't officially announced Shaw's spot on the Opening Day roster, they have informed the first baseman - who had the opportunity to opt-out Saturday - that he had made the club.
Shaw will be scheduled to make $1.5 million for the 2022 season, although the Red Sox have the right to release the infielder within the first 40 days and not be committed for the rest of his salary.
He figures to be the backup to Bobby Dalbec at first base, offering a left-handed-hitting complement at the position. While Shaw can also play third base, he has only manned first throughout the Grapefruit League season.
Shaw only has four hits in 22 Grapefruit League at-bats this spring training (2 of them coming in one game), but his at-bats the past week have been noticeably different than at the beginning of camp. It was a spring training that he didn't join until a week after the rest of the players reported.
In his last four games, Shaw is 4-for-5 with three walks.
"I was a week late already to spring training. For me, it was trying to get a feel as quick as possible," he said. "It came about when it normally does, but unfortunately with three weeks it only came with a week to go instead of four weeks to go. As a non-roster invitee, trying to make the team, when you get off to a slow start in spring there is a little bit of anxiety that builds up. But they saw me in this role last year and they all know who I am and thankfully they saw that."
The Red Sox are carrying 13 position players, with non-roster invitees Rob Refsnyder and Franchy Cordero seemingly competing with Jonathan Arauz - who is on the 40-man roster - for the final spot.