Key cog in Chris Sale trade could face competition before his season even starts

Could a key piece from the Chris Sale trade lose his Red Sox starting job without playing a game?

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox
Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox / Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

When the Boston Red Sox traded Chris Sale to the Atlanta Braves, the prevailing thought was the piece they acquired in return -- 23-year-old infielder Vaughn Grissom -- would receive immediate playing time in Beantown.

Unfortunately, Grissom's Sox debut is on delay thanks to a groin injury. The latest update from the Red Sox suggested Grissom could be ready sooner than expected. Alex Cora told the media that Grissom will start playing in minor-league rehab starts shortly.

However, when Grissom does make his way back to the majors, will he still be the starting second baseman? His replacement, Enmanuel Valdez, has had some moments early this season. While the offensive numbers don't jump off the page -- he's hitting just .177 with a .529 OPS -- Valdez did hit a home run just a few days ago and has played capably at second. A platoon, at the very least, is an option should Grissom struggle.

Vaughn Grissom ready to turn the page, start for Red Sox

Prior to his injury, Grissom said all the right things at Red Sox spring training.

“It's great to get a clear opportunity. I kind of liked the [one I had with the Braves], too, because I like to grind, and I love the doubt,” Grissom said. “It's just something that drives athletes. Whatever situation I'm in, I don't just take it as a win or anything; I feel like I still have to go out and earn everything.”

If anything, some added competition could help fuel Grissom, turning him into the player Alex Cora knows he can be. Cora believes with some mechanical tweaks, Grissom could be an above-average MLB hitter.

“We do believe that the stronger he gets, mechanics-wise, there are a few things sequencing-wise [Red Sox hitting coach Peter Fatse] has recognized,” Cora said. “If we can get that, then we’re going to have the final product.”

Unlike in Atlanta, the Red Sox don't have the infield talent to keep Grissom off the field consistently. One way or another, he should get some playing time eventually. Grissom is just 23 and Craig Breslow isn't about to admit defeat on a trade this quickly, even if that loss does come at the hand of Alex Anthopoulos.

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