PITTSBURGH — It doesn’t take a lot of time perusing his stats or watching him play to make the determination that Chris Bostick’s most likely role at the Major League level will be as a utility player.
Bostick, 24, recorded his first MLB hit on Thursday as the Pirates finished their penultimate homestand with an 8-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
The hit, a double off the Clemente Wall in the ninth inning with no one on and the Pirates trailing by a touchdown, won’t be remembered for its historical importance. But it’s a big deal for Bostick to get his first taste of Major League success performing the role that he’s most likely to assume going forward. Bostick entered the game as part of a double switch and went 1-for-2 on the night.
It’s big because even though Bostick looks like he’ll be a utility player and a bench option at the Major League level, he’s never done that to this point in his career.
He has plenty of experience playing multiple positions. This season with Triple-A Indianapolis, he’s played left field (38 games), right field (34 games), center field (13 games), second base (33 games) and third base (6 games).
But that adds up to a lot of games and a lot of playing time. Bostick led the Indians in games played, plate appearances and at-bats. To transition to the majors, he’s going to have to go from an everyday player that’s moved around the field a good bit to a part-time player that’s doing the same thing.
That’s part of what he’s trying to accomplish this September in Pittsburgh and that’s why having some success in that role on Thursday is a good sign for him going forward.
“It’s definitely different,” Bostick said. “It’s something that I’ve never done. It’s something that a lot of young players that get to the major leagues and they’ve never done before, but it’s everybody needs to learn to do. You can’t always expect to be in the lineup. It’s something that I know is a role that I might have to play, so it’s something that I want to get better at, for sure.”
It’s not just the role, either. Even if Bostick was working off the bench in Indianapolis, that wouldn’t help with all of his transition. It’s a big difference between coming into the eighth inning of a game in Triple-A and coming into a similar situation in the majors, even with the Pirates out of contention.
“Every game matters,” Bostick said. “Every game, you’re trying to win, whereas some games in the minor leagues, you’re just out there trying to get your reps in.”
That’s why, the Pirates are looking for starts for players like Max Moroff and Jordan Luplow down the stretch, they’re perfectly comfortable using Bostick just the way they did on Thursday.
“This was an opportunity for us to get him a couple at-bats,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “This could be the way things play out for him. He’s also played almost every day in Triple-A. So, he’s used to starting. That’s the hard transition part. This may be the opportunity for him at this level.”
Bostick said that while no young player wants to be looked at as just a bench option, the Pirates have plenty of examples in Josh Harrison and Sean Rodriguez of how a player can turn the ability to be a part-time player into a successful career.
“You come up and there’s not necessarily a spot that’s there for you,” Bostick said. “I want to see if I can develop myself in that role and be able to perform.”