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Struggling Red Sox call up Leon, DFA Swihart

NEW YORK — The Boston Red Sox recalled catcher Sandy Leon and designated catcher Blake Swihart for assignment, making Swihart the first roster casualty amid the team’s early-season struggles.

Leon, who spent the first few weeks of the 2019 season in Triple-A, will start when the Red Sox take on the rival Yankees in New York on Tuesday, with Chris Sale on the mound.

Blake Swihart was batting .231, but his DFA likely had more to do with the team’s pitching woes. Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The Red Sox are off to a 6-11 start, tied for last place in the American League East, and their starters have the worst ERA in baseball at 7.18.

Leon spent much of 2018 as Sale’s personal catcher, and much of the Red Sox pitching staff speaks glowingly of his ability to call a game. In 2018, he led the majors with a 3.29 catcher’s ERA in 89 games.

Christian Vazquez has been the team’s primary starting catcher.

Swihart, once the top prospect in the Red Sox farm system and a 2011 first-round pick, has struggled with injuries since making his major league debut in 2015.

Drafted as a catcher, Swihart first hit the injured list in 2016 after spraining his left ankle during a collision with the Fenway Park left field wall while playing outfield. Swihart also spent significant time in 2018 on the IL, nursing a strained hamstring.

Swihart spent the first two months of the 2018 season as the 25th man on the Red Sox, without minor league options.

In an effort to create more playing time, Swihart added the infield and outfield to his defensive arsenal but received 30 at-bats in the first 50 games of the season. The 27-year-old finished the year hitting .229/.285/.328 with three homers and 18 RBIs in 82 games.

In 203 games with the Red Sox, Swihart has hit .255/.314/.365 with nine homers and 58 RBIs, accumulating 0.3 WAR.

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