If that leads to a role with the Red Sox other than the occasional appearance, great. If not, he’ll wait to see where the game takes him.
“I’m really, really figuring it out,” Dalbec said Tuesday before he started at first base against the Rangers and went 1-for-3 with a walk, a double, two runs scored, and two strikeouts in the 6-4 loss. “I figured out what I needed to do to be a consistent player.”
This cannot be easily defined. It’s a combination of physical and mental adjustments and how to connect those two, as well as learning to not let the frustration inherent in the game carry over into the next day.
“It’s a lot about confidence,” Dalbec said. “I can’t get over myself.”
The fact that Dalbec has hit 34 percent of his plate appearances for the WooSox this season cannot be ignored. It was a Red Sox Triple A record.
“Swinging and missing is still part of his game,” Sox manager Alex Cora said. “But I think everyone was happy with the way he was driving the ball.”
The on-base percentage of .381 also cannot be ignored. A player who reaches base and hits for power has value.
“That’s what they asked me to work on,” Dalbec said. “The strength will always come. But what can I do to stay in the lineup when I don’t?
“Get on base, steal bases, do whatever I can to help. Swing and miss, I understand that. But I was able to do it with a high walk percentage.”
To some extent, this is a product of Major League Baseball’s experiment with automatic balls and strikes at the Triple A level, a process that narrowed the strike zone for most of the season and led to record walk rates.
But Dalbec is convinced he has taken steps forward.
“You have to do something different to get better,” he added. “You can do the same things over and over again. The last couple of years I haven’t been as swing-wise and mechanic-wise as myself. I’ve gotten that back.”
Dalbec also lost weight over the course of the season to improve his athletic level. His power has not suffered and he has been Worcester’s everyday right fielder for the past month and a half.
This was his first time playing off the field and he handled it well. Triple A manager Chad Tracy told Cora that she had no concerns about putting Dalbec there.
“Overall, he’s made a lot of improvements,” Cora said. “Especially with the mental part of the game… When you talk to him, he’s a different person.”
Dalbec was angry when he was demoted in spring training, believing he had done everything he could to prove he belonged in the major leagues.
The Sox called him up in April, May and again in June, but he made just 14 starts over 10 games, barely a chance.
Each time he returned to Worcester and produced.
“Whatever decisions they make, that’s not something I can control,” Dalbec said. “Last year I didn’t accept that and now I accept the decisions they make whether you or I or anyone else thinks they’re right or wrong. That’s not for me to decide.
“I accepted where I was and had a great time with the players there. I learned from them and bounced ideas off them. I felt like we all improved.”
The Sox are looking for a new president of baseball operations, which could lead to trading Dalbec. He is under team control through 2024, after which he will be out of options.
“I can’t put any value on it or stress myself out over it,” Dalbec said. “Whatever happens, I’ll deal with it. We’ll see.”
With Rafael Devers at third base and Triston Casas at first, Dalbec doesn’t have a clear fit on the roster. He’s only here now because Casas is on the injured list with bursitis in his right shoulder.
Is Dalbec a major league player?
“I think it is,” Cora said. “He’s a good defender. He hits the ball out of the park.
“Hitouts are always going to be a part of it. But as long as he gets on base and swings at the right bases, he’ll be fine.”
This is Dalbec’s eighth season in professional football. Through all the promotions, demotions, and frustrations, commitment has not waned.
“I’m not soft,” he said. “I want to play until the wheels fall off.”
Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. follow him @BetAbby.