Ceddanne Rafaela’s reaction to making Red Sox roster was moment fans needed

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At the beginning of spring training, Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters that outfield prospect Ceddanne Rafaela would get the starting center field job if he made the team.

After weeks of watching Rafaela squash nearly every doubt about his chances, Cora formally announced on March 23 that he's made the Opening Day roster.

Rafaela brought electricity to Boston's roster that lacks star power. He made impressive strides at the plate to accompany his exceptional defensive skills. He developed his eye to only swing at pitches he can hit, he walks at a higher clip, and he's mashed four home runs in Grapefruit League play.

“Everything we asked him to do in the offseason, he did. Everything that we asked him to do in Spring Training, he did,” Cora said to reporters following the announcement. “He’s very dynamic, athletic, versatile and he’s a good kid, too, which is awesome.”

Ceddanne Rafaela made the Red Sox's Opening Day roster after an exciting spring

Rafaela's chances to crack the roster felt much more up in the air earlier in the spring than they did before he played in games. Some reporters theorized that he would need more time in the minors to fine-tune his eye before he was ready to face MLB-caliber pitching every day, but after a few short weeks, Rafaela swiftly put those concerns to rest.

When the 23-year-old found out he made the team, his reaction was wholesome. He recounted to reporters what happened after he was called into Cora's office to receive the good news.

“Obviously I was kind of nervous, because I didn’t know what was going to happen at that moment,” Rafaela said. “I’ve been waiting for it all spring, so I was excited to see what the plan was.

“[I called] my mom, I called my wife and then my brother. … It was awesome.”

Rafaela's spring surge and his excitement to make the team helped make the 2023-24 offseason more palatable for Boston fans. He played each game this spring like he had every intention of making the Opening Day roster, and his hard work paid off nicely.

Red Sox fans have been thrilled with Rafaela's production on both sides of the ball. He's been compared to a Mookie Betts-type of player — he's athletic, can hit for power and average, and he can play defense well to back it up. Now he'll have the chance to prove that on the biggest stage.

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