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Aggressive Approach Benefits Tzu-Wei Lin

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Through five minor league seasons, Tzu-Wei Lin had struggled to allow his performance to match his tools. He showed solid bat-to-ball skills and big league defensive potential but rarely made an impact on the field.

With little offensive impact—he hit .217/.281/.284 in 154 Double-A games in 2015 and 2016—his development seemed to stall in Portland.

Portland manager Carlos Febles felt compelled to intervene. He essentially dared Lin to start taking risks in the box, and to make use of the strength he had added since joining the Red Sox as an 18-year-old international free agent from Taiwan in 2012.

"He tried to encourage me . . . to try to finish my swing (and) hit the ball hard, instead of feeling for (the ball) and putting it in play, which doesn’t do any good,” Lin said through translator Mickey Jiang. "In spring training, Febles reminded me and said, ‘Forget about the past. Throw it behind you. Look forward, and stick with your plan, trust it, be more confident, be more aggressive—especially in the box.’ ” Lin heeded the advice, resulting in one of the more unexpected jumps in the Red Sox system. In 48 games at Portland this year, Lin hit .302/.379/.491 with as many extra-base hits (17) as he had in 106 games at the level the previous year.

That improvement, along with an increasingly diverse defensive portfolio that now includes shortstop, third base, second base and center field, led the Sox to promote the 23-year-old directly from Double-A to the big leagues in June.

Though he was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket in mid-July, Lin’s performance in Portland and the big leagues—he hit .280/.379/.360 in 19 games—altered the perception of him. His defensive versatility, above-average speed and contact skills from the left side, along with increasing glimpses of bat life, suggest a player with a chance to forge a niche as a valuable bench player.

"It’s a low-maintenance swing. It’s a compact swing. He’s a very good athlete. He’s got a good throwing arm,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "To me, what stands out is just his control of his emotions and the control of his game when he’s in the batter’s box, in particular. It’s been great to see.”

SOX YARNS

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Red Sox Sign Shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin For $2.05 Million

The Red Sox have added one of the top international amateur free agents, getting 18-year-old shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin out of Taiwan for $2.05 million.

• The Red Sox shut down righthander Travis Lakins, likely for the rest of the season, because of a recurrence of a stress fracture in the tip of his right elbow, the same injury that ended his 2016 season.

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