Home / Sports / Why does Alex Cora believe that Rafael Devers can be among the elite?

Why does Alex Cora believe that Rafael Devers can be among the elite?



"We do not have time, we need hours to talk about this," Cora said.

The dissertation that followed lasted a few ticks after four minutes, which was more than enough to know that Cora believes that Devers will soon be one of the elite players in his position.

Then, the Red Sox played against the Houston Astros and Devers proved that he could already be there.

Devers helped save a career with one of the best defensive plays of his career in the third inning, charging freehand with a ball slowly hit by Carlos Correa and throwing through his body for a start while Alex Bregman remained third. base.

"That was perfect, man," said Eduardo Rodriguez, who threw six strong innings. "Very good pitch, good move from him." I think he saved me there.

Then Devers hit a fastball by Justin Verlander on the wall in center field at the top of the fourth inning to give the Sox a 2-1 lead. They continued to win, 4-1.

Rafael Devers observes how the flight from his house runs out of Justin Verlander in the fourth inning.
Rafael Devers observes how the flight from his house runs out of Justin Verlander in the fourth inning. (David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

Counting the postseason, the Sox and Astros have split 18 games since the start of last season with the Sox scoring one more run. The difference in 10 of the games was one or two races.

It's a convincing baseball game, and if we're lucky, these teams will meet again in October, if only to see how good Devers is then. Because it is clear that he can be a special player.

Devers went 2 for 4 and finished the road trip 13 for 27 with four home runs, eight RBIs and eight runs in six games. He has hit .377 with an OPS of 1.055 in the last month to raise his bar line to .330 / .393 / .508 for the season.

That puts him firmly in the same company as Bregman and Oakland star Matt Chapman.

"There is no possibility," said Devers, who answered the question with a mixture of Spanish and what is rapidly improving English. "I have more work to do."

Rafael Devers singles in the eighth inning, finishing the road trip of the Red Sox with 13 hits in 27 at-bats.
Rafael Devers singles in the eighth inning, finishing the road trip of the Red Sox with 13 hits in 27 at-bats. (Bob Levey / Getty Images)

Cora believes that Devers has improved due to a low season program that changed the shape of his body and a structured routine before the game that has better prepared him both on the field and in the field.

Devers works harder in the cage before the games than before, and is almost always on the field before hitting the practice of skating and refining his fundamentals.

But Cora also wondered if it had anything to do with Devers cutting his hair. Her dyed blonde braids have been replaced by a tight business appearance.

"He cleaned it," said Cora.

Devers laughed when he heard that theory.

"I really liked my old haircut," he said.

Devers was expected to become a productive hitter. He is strong with a bat speed higher than the average that allows him to drive the ball to the opposite field.

The defense was the problem. Devers was a third base below average last season and this April he was accused of a series of errors in routine plays.

But during the last three weeks, working with coaches Carlos Febles and Ramon Vazquez, Devers changed his angle on the slow rolls, attacking the ball from the side after taking a quick first step.

"If your arms are in front of you, you can not clean your hands if you need a little bounce," said first baseman Mitch Moreland. "You have to give yourself some space."

Correa's work was an example of that.

"That's what it takes, it's the repetition, working and studying other boys," said Cora. "We have played [against] Some great third base in the last weeks. . . He pays attention to those guys. It has been incredible. It has been really good. "

Cora, who revels in the skill of the games, was particularly proud that the Houston players were watching closely when Devers was at second base on Saturday because they thought he was pointing out what pitch was hitting the batter.

"He's 22 years old and he's in the game," Cora said.

But he is still the youngest player on the list, too. During a particularly tense moment of the game on Saturday, Devers passed by Cora in search of chewing gum.

"He's having a blast," said the manager. "I think everyone saw him in spring training, he's been great and he wants to be great."

Cora has unlimited respect for Bregman, a player he helped mentor in 2017 when he was a Houston banking coach. He wants Devers to aspire to that level.

"I know many people are also talking about Raffy in that category," said Cora. "He's intensifying, I can keep talking about Raffy, I'm very proud of him … He's a force. This is what we had imagined."


Peter Abraham can be contacted at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.


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