Red Sox infielder Marco Hernandez will miss spring training after setback

BOSTON, MA - JULY 01: Marco Hernandez
BOSTON, MA - JULY 01: Marco Hernandez /

Boston Red Sox infielder Marco Hernandez has been sent back to Boston after suffering a setback with his surgically repaired shoulder.

Spring training for the Boston Red Sox was barely underway before it abruptly came to an end for infielder Marco Hernandez.

The 25-year old was sent back to Boston this week after reporting soreness in his surgically repaired left shoulder. Hernandez underwent a procedure to remove pins that had been inserted to stabilize the shoulder during his season-ending surgery last May.

Hernandez was limited to 21 games last season due to the injury. He hit .276 with a .628 OPS in 58 at-bats. He flashed his upside as a rookie in 2016, hitting .294 with a .730 OPS in 40 games.

The versatile infielder is capable of covering second base, shortstop and third. The expectation was that he would serve as a backup at each of those positions, although this setback means he’ll almost certainly begin the season on the disabled list or in Triple-A Pawtucket. Manager Alex Cora confirmed that Hernadez will miss the rest of spring training. His status to open the season remains uncertain.

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The Red Sox have depth in the infield to ensure they are covered in the event that Hernandez misses significant time in the regular season. The freshly re-signed Eduardo Nunez will cover second base while Dustin Pedroia works his way back from knee surgery. Nunez will slot into the utility role that Hernandez was slated for once Pedroia is ready to return.

Boston can also turn to Brock Holt to cover almost any position. Deven Marrero could make the Opening Day roster as an option off the bench if Hernandez is unavailable. Tzu-Wei Lin may start the year in Pawtucket but can be called upon for additional depth if necessary.

The return of Nunez was going to eat into Hernandez’ playing time even if he had stayed healthy. Missing camp could lead to a slow start when he eventually returns. It could take weeks for Hernandez to ramp up his conditioning and get his timing back at the plate. The first month of the season will essentially be his spring training, which he’ll likely work through in Pawtucket. That could put Hernandez in danger of falling further down the infield hierarchy.

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Hernandez won’t be arbitration eligible until 2020 and remains under team control until 2023. He should still have a future in this organization, at least as a cheap depth option. He has the upside to become more than that but only if he can stay on the field.