Red Sox show caution with Rafael Devers
As we embark on the wild and wacky world of this 2020 Red Sox campaign, a few faces were missing from training camp. One of those that had been absent was dynamic third baseman Rafael Devers. Boston’s left-handed powerhouse has been working out at Boston College while the team awaited the results of COVID testing.
Though Devers had tested negative there was a chance he had been exposed to the virus so the team was being cautious, which is the right play. Luckily, Raffy tested negative four times and was able to make his return to Fenway Park. Things picked up right away as he took part in Thursday’s intrasquad session.
I’m glad the Red Sox took the extra steps to remove him from the rest of the team in order to limit the possible spread if he had been positive. Luckily for all involved, the southpaw has a clean bill of health and is ready to get back to work. After his breakout season in 2019, one of the only bright spots last year, he has a hell of an act to follow.
If you ask the third baseman about his thoughts on 2020, his confidence is hard to deny.
Red Sox star Rafael Devers is ready to do work in 2020
Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke and Devers discussed the infielder’s health and their outlook for the upcoming campaign.
"“(Devers) and a couple other guys were cleared today,” said manager Ron Roenicke. “They got their test results back. That’s why they showed up late. That was really nice, we were still able to get in the game.”"
It was good to see Raffy back on the diamond and taking reps in the field. We all know that his offense isn’t the issue, so getting as many reps as possible on defense is nothing but positive. He kicked in the door of the league back in 2018 during Boston’s last World Series run, but it was 2019 where his name really became known.
As the Red Sox began to move towards a young core of players it was Devers that surpassed everyone else at third to become the everyday starter. The lefty shined in an otherwise dim year for the Sox.
He posted a .311/.361/.555/.916/115 line with 54 doubles and 32 dingers. He and Xander Bogaerts would become the first teammates in MLB history to be in the “30-50 Club.” That’s pretty damn good for his first full season in the Majors.
As for 2020, Rafael seems pretty damn excited and has himself healthy and ready to go for Opening Day.
"“I feel great,” Devers said through interpreter Bryan Almonte. “My hamstring’s not bothering me, my back feels great. I feel 100% healthy. I’m in good shape and I’m ready for the season to start.”"
If the Red Sox want to have any degree of success in the shortened 2020 season then they need Raffy mashing from day one. Boston’s offense has been near the top of the league for the last few years so I have little doubt that they’ll drop this year.
Obviously, they’ll have to make up for the departure of Mookie Betts, but the talent is there to do so. Having Devers hitting at full strength and firing on all cylinders right out of the gate will be key and necessary. Raffy is going to have a bigger opportunity going forward without the big bat of Betts in the lineup.
If I had to guess, he’ll wind up in the top-four of the lineup along with Andrew Benintendi, Bogey, and J.D. Martinez. Going off of what he did last year, that first half of the Red Sox lineup is going to be a nightmare for opposing pitchers.
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It isn’t lost on the Dominican native as this wasn’t an offseason of just rest and relaxation. Of course, he got himself recharged and healthy but he made sure to put the work in as well. He not only stayed in contact with Roenicke and the rest of the coaching staff but worked out regularly at Boston’s training academy in the DR. Though he’s just 23, he’s showing the work ethic of a veteran player.
Going back to Thursday’s intrasquad where he was able to get to the plate a few times and take some hacks. He didn’t mince words by any means about how he feels and what his mindset is heading into the campaign.
"“I felt good at the plate today,” Devers said. “I was just trying to get my timing right. Putting in the work like I’ve been doing the last couple days to translate to what I did today. I’m seeing the ball well too, and I’m 100% ready to go right now if the season were to start.”"
As a member of Red Sox Nation, I’m loving every damn bit of his confidence. He knows he’s good and what he’s capable of, while still putting in the effort to get better. I’m excited to see what he can do this year knowing that it’s going to be a sprint and not the usual marathon. If Devers is as ready as he says he is, then we may see some fireworks on Opening Day. He’s going to be a major asset to Roenicke this season while being a key player in the machine that is the Red Sox.