Shaw strong in ‘audition’ with Red Sox


Travis Shaw is getting his opportunity to show the Boston Red Sox what he can do, and the Washington C.H. native is making the case that he’s ready to be the team’s everyday first baseman in 2016.

After being called up from AAA Pawtucket and getting some playing time here and there, the Red Sox traded a key veteran player (Mike Napoli) and Shaw has been playing regularly ever since.

Going into Friday’s game, Shaw had played in 24 games with 6 home runs and 12 RBI and a batting average of .382. He has scored 16 runs, hit 3 doubles and has an on-base percentage of .427.

After going 0-2 in his major league debut on May 8, Shaw’s next chance to play for the Red Sox came on June 14, again against the Toronto Blue Jays.

He went 0-7 in five games in June.

Then, on July 7 at Fenway Park he went 3-4 against the Miami Marlins.

His first career home run came in the bottom of the third inning against Tampa Bay on Aug. 1.

He went 4-4 in that game with another home run, a 428-foot blast to center, that scored Hanley Ramirez.

Since the first of August, Shaw has played in 15 of the Red Sox’ 17 games, starting 12 of those.

He now has a total of eight multiple-hit games, with five multiple-hit games in his last seven.

Shaw grew up playing in the Washington C.H. Little League, coached by his grandfather, Harry and dad, Jeff Shaw.

“I would say it was probably high school when I bought into it and I really wanted to make sure I did as much as I could to further my baseball career,” Shaw said. “It became more of a reality after my senior year when I got drafted out of high school.

Shaw was drafted by the Red Sox in the 32nd round in 2008.

He opted to go to college instead and played three years at Kent State.

“I turned that down, but, getting drafted out of high school kind of made it a reality to me, that this could be something that could happen in the future.”

Shaw was drafted again by the Red Sox in 2011 and began his professional career.

With the first baseman Napoli traded to the Texas Rangers, Shaw has been playing regularly and quickly showing that he can be a very productive Major League hitter.

“The (General Manager) said something in the media about part of reason they traded Napoli was to get a longer look at me; give me everyday reps,” Shaw said. “I had kind of been told that earlier in the year, but, I just had to wait my turn.

“I knew that once Napoli was out of the picture, these last two months would kind of be like an audition for me,” Shaw said. “They need to get a look at me, just to see what they have moving forward. I guess this is like an audition for me, to compete and to show them I can play at this level and try to do something to win that job, win that starting job for next year.”

Once first base opened up and he got the chance to play every day, Shaw has been busy making the most of this moment.

“Earlier in the year, going up and down, not playing every day, that was the first time I’ve ever gone through that in my career,” Shaw said. “It was kind of a learning experience. Learning to stay prepared so when you do get that opportunity, you make the most of it.

“Once you start playing every day, it’s easier to get into a rhythm,” Shaw said. “Going to the field every day, knowing you’re going to be in the line-up, it’s huge. You can prepare, mentally, to be in the line-up. There’s not really a question whether you’re going to be in the line-up, you’re just going to play.

“Being able to get those consistent reps…once you get your first hit, your first home run, it just helps you relax,” Shaw said. “I remember, after I went 4-4 with the two home runs, it was like, yeah…it becomes a reality, that you can do this.

“Once you do it a couple of times, things start to (build) from there,” Shaw said. “It helps you relax. It kind of shows the guys upstairs that you belong there. Then you don’t have to put as much pressure on yourself.

“The line-up that I’m in right now, there are a lot of good players,” Shaw said. “With David (‘Big Papi’) Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez, it’s fun to be part of this line-up.”

Ortiz, 39, has hit 492 career home runs, 434 for the Red Sox. He is a lifetime .284 hitter with 1,608 career RBI and 571 career doubles.

“Playing with David Ortiz is amazing,” Shaw said. “It’s awesome. He’s an unbelievable guy. He’s given me tons of information. He talks with me every day. This recent stretch I’ve had I think has shown guys (in the front office) that I can play up here. (Ortiz) has given me advice. He’s done nothing but welcome me. He’s a great teammate and a great person to be around.”

And, as far as Fenway Park, it’s one of the last remaining ‘classic’ old ball parks, opening in 1912 when Ohio’s own William Howard Taft was president of the United States.

Babe Ruth made his Major League debut in Fenway Park on July 11, 1914.

Many other great players have donned the classic Red Sox uniform, including Ted Williams, still the last player to bat over .400 in a season (1941) and Carl Yastrzemski, who captured the Triple Crown in 1967.

“Playing at Fenway is awesome,” Shaw said. “I think of Carl Yastrzemski and Wade Boggs. There is so much history in that ball park. The fans are unbelievable. Even though our record is not the greatest (the Red Sox entered Friday night’s game in the basement of the American League East Division at 55-66, 12.5 games out of first place and 8 games back in the wild card), the fans come out every night. It’s packed every night.”

Out of all of the millions of kids that ever played the game of baseball, Shaw, at the age of 25, has reached the pinnacle of the profession.

He is a proud product of Washington C.H., coming up through the ranks of the Washington C.H. Little League, coached by his grandfather, Harry Shaw, and dad, former Major League pitcher, Jeff Shaw, to reach the Major Leagues.

“There have been a lot of people that have impacted my career,” Shaw said. “I grew up in Court House. I played all the levels of baseball. I’d like to thank all of those people.

“Coach (Rob) Smith, Mr. (Troy) Montgomery,” Shaw said, naming his former high school coaches. “Those guys have had nothing but good impacts on my baseball career. I wouldn’t be where I am without all of the support from all of the people in Washington Court House. I’m just thankful for everything everyone has done for me. I’m thankful for the opportunity that I have and I’m just going to try and make the most of it the next two months.”

Shaw is married to the former Lindy Berry. He is the son of Jeff and Julie Shaw and has one sister, Molli, and one brother, Griffin. He is the grandson of Harry and Judy Shaw and Jean and the late Gene Wissinger, all of Washington C.H.

The Red Sox will be ending the 2015 season with a three-game series at Cleveland’s Progressive Field against the Indians on Friday, Oct. 2, Saturday, Oct. 3 and Sunday, Oct. 4.

The Oct. 2 and 3 games are at 7:10 p.m. and the Oct. 4 game starts at 3:10 p.m.

Travis Shaw returns to the dugout after scoring a run during a game in early August, 2015 at Fenway Park in Boston. Shaw returns to the dugout after scoring a run during a game in early August, 2015 at Fenway Park in Boston. Billie Weiss | Boston Red Sox

By Chris Hoppes

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Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1ch

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