A Silent Bat Keeps Scott on the Bench

Filed under Boston Red Sox
June 17, 1968

As the star of Ken Harrelson continues to rise in Boston, the star of George Scott continued to decline. Instead of being the center of things, Scott was on one end of the Red Sox bench fretting while others played. Last year, Scott hit .313 while the Red Sox rose to contention in the American League, got a big raise in salary and got married during the winter.

In spring training, Scott played regularly and worked as hard as anyone in Winter Haven. He ran every day in the outfield to keep his weight down. Great things were predicted for him. Ironically, Scott said one day that the reason he was doing so much running was because he knew he would play regularly. “I want to lose weight this year so I’m running all the time,” he explained. “It might make me weak at bat, but I don’t care, because I know I have a regular job which I never had in the spring before.” Indeed, Scott had to fight his way into the lineup his first two seasons. Two successive years he beat out the challenge of Tony Horton, now with the Indians, to win the Bosox first base job. This year life seemed easy for George. But he failed to hit. Soon Harrelson was playing first base and Scott was benched. Now, Harrelson is threatening to make the All-Star team and Scott is playing less and less. Scott is currently batting .212 with one home run.

When Jose Tartabull was placed on the disabled list for 21 days with a leg injury, Joe Lahoud was recalled from Louisville (International). Harrelson stayed at first, and it was Lahoud who took over in right field rather than Scott returning to the lineup. There has even been some talk that the Red Sox may trade Scott and make Harrelson a fixture at first base. However, Red Sox director of player personnel said there were no plans to trade George. There was no doubt, however, that Scott faced a battle to get back into the lineup on a regular basis. He was getting sympathy, but he was not playing.

If Lahoud fails, Harrelson undoubtedly will be placed in right field and Scott will return to first. The other possibility for Scott to play regularly is at third base. He came to the Red Sox in 1966 as a third baseman and was moved to first only after Horton failed to win the job. Meanwhile, Scott will fret on the bench and will get into games in the late innings as a defensive replacement.

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