Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers made a triumphant return to the lineup with two hits in his first game back from the disabled list.
Welcome back, Rafael Devers. The third baseman wasted no time in making an impact in his return to the Boston Red Sox lineup.
Devers missed eight games with a strained hamstring that sidelined him on the disabled list. He was deemed ready to return after only one rehab outing in which he crushed a home run for the Single-A Lowell Spinners on Monday.
It appears he brought that power with him north of the border. Devers rejoined the team in Toronto for Wednesday’s game against the Blue Jays. He reached base three times in his return, drawing a walk, smacking a double and blasting a home run.
The two-run shot to right field put Boston on top 7-0 in the sixth inning. The Jay would rally with five runs over their own so the homer from Devers helped prevent the game from getting uncomfortably close.
The time off may have benefited Devers. The 21-year old had fallen into a slump prior to the injury, hitting a mere .214 with a .605 OPS in July. The hamstring was never a serious concern but a trip to the disabled list gave him an opportunity to rest, clear his head and work on adjustments.
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Boston received some solid production at third base in his absence. Red Sox third baseman combined to go 10-for-34 (.294) in the eight games that Devers missed. Most of that production came from Eduardo Nunez, who has shown signs of life following a brutal first half. Nunez is hitting .279 with a .695 OPS since the All-Star break. He hasn’t been quite the sparkplug he was in the second half of last season but he’s been better than the below-replacement level player he was for most of the year.
Despite that the team managed to survive without Devers, it’s good to have him back. Boston’s infield has been thinned by injuries to Ian Kinsler and Blake Swihart. Brock Holt‘s solid season has gone in the tank. He’s 3-for-38 (.079) since the break. Devers returning to reclaim his spot at third base allows Nunez to be the primary second baseman while Holt goes to the bench.
The infield defense takes a significant hit with this alignment. Nunez (-13 defensive runs saved at second base) and Devers (-11 DRS at third) have been among the worst defensive players at their respective positions. A Red Sox team leading the majors in nearly every offensive category can afford to prioritize defense at one of those positions but they can’t until everyone is healthy or Holt stops being a liability at the plate. Getting Kinsler back on the field will go a long way toward correcting those defensive issues.
Devers has sputtered a bit through a sophomore slump this season, hitting .248 with a .736 OPS, 16 home runs, and 54 RBI. That’s below the expectations set by his promising rookie campaign but still better than any other option the Red Sox have at third base.
A trip to the disabled list allowed Devers to recharge his batteries. If his first came back is any indication, Devers appears ready for a strong finish.