After going hit less in eight at-bats for the Boston Red Sox in 2008, Joe Thurston is back in the organization. Recently signed to a Minor League deal, Thurston will be doing more than playing; his contract also has him in a coaching role as well.
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Currently, Thurston is listed on the Portland Sea Dogs roster as a player, so it is likely that he will stay there and mentor players this season. Currently, he is not listed on the coaching staff as one of the three coaches on the team, but it is clear that Boston did not bring him back for his playing abilities.
Last playing Major League Baseball in 2011 (one game for the Florida Marlins), Thurston is long gone from the big leagues, although having him in the organization could prove helpful for the Red Sox. In his big league career, he is a lifetime .226 hitter with a .305 OBP— playing the bulk of his time in the show with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009.
He showed off all sores of versatility, manning second base and third base in addition to the outfield. In the minors, he also saw significant playing time at shortstop.
This past season, Thurston played for two teams in Mexico where he showed that he can still hit but then again, the pitching in Mexico is of a poor quality compared to Minor League Baseball in America.
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Since Thurston was such a versatile player back in the day and the Red Sox value versatility (as do most big league teams), perhaps they brought in Thurston to not only help players as they try to make it to the big leagues, but to help them improve their versatility— adding to their value.
As for still playing the game, he will most likely serve as a roster filler on the team, only playing when the Sea Dogs need a body in the field and in their lineup. Certainly, he must be getting paid more than he did back in his Minor League playing days.
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Eighteen years ago, the Red Sox picked him in the 45th round of the MLB draft, but he did not sign.