Will recovering Red Sox infielder Marco Hernandez finally contribute?
By Rick McNair
The Boston Red Sox have an abundance of utility players when all hands are healthy. Just how will the recovering Marco Hernandez fit in?
The completed transaction was just a nondescript line in the transactions wire listing in the papers. The announcement was that the player to be named later in the deal that sent Felix Doubront to the Chicago Cubs would be a lefty swinging infielder name, Marco Hernandez.
In 2015, Hernandez started his trek within the Red Sox system with a flourish, hitting .326 at Portland (AA). Hernandez quickly established his bona fides in the art of hitting – an art that catches attention and elevates one up the minor league progressive ladder rapidly.
In 2016, Hernandez was rewarded with forty games in Boston and the Red Sox were rewarded with a .294 batting average. The future looked bright for the versatile infielder.
In early May of 2017, Hernandez was placed on the injured list and eventually had left shoulder surgery and his season was therefore concluded. In spring training preparation for 2018, Hernandez again went in for shoulder surgery and that was repeated in July to terminate any comeback.
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Hernandez is now in the rehabilitation process and finished his first stint at Salem (A+) hitting .295 in 21 games. The next step is an assignment to Portland for the now 26-year-old. With three significant surgical interventions, the key element is certainly caution, but if Hernandez responds his future could be in Boston and that could impact two other reserve infielders – free agents to be Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt.
Hernandez has a small statistical ledger at the major league level with a .284 batting average in just 116 plate appearances. The free-swinging Hernandez treats walks (6) with as much enthusiasm as we would with a letter from the Internal Revenue Service. Defensively, Hernandez will not illicit memories of Ozzie Smith as a defensive player.
Hernandez – or at least a healthy Hernandez – could impact the roster with the before mentioned duo of Holt and Nunez. Both are more expensive, but both are significantly more experienced. The eventual decision may result in the Red Sox jettisoning either Holt or Nunez after the season or before if trade winds blow favorably.
The other roster vulnerability is Tzi-Wei Lin who is an excellent defender compared to Hernandez, Holt, and Nunez. Lin is also more capable than all three with his extensive outfield experience, but Lin – far more patient than Hernandez – does not offer the same level of offense.
The final decisions are several months away with Hernandez having to prove himself physically capable. Lin may still have some Boston time once he returns to active duty as will Holt. The reality is the Red Sox will have some decision-making based on who can provide the utility support and someone will be the odd man out.