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Alex Cora throws down gauntlet for Rafael Devers

Rob Bradford
September 01, 2018 - 7:42 pm

CHICAGO -- For the majority of the season, Alex Cora has cited the need to not overreact to Rafael Devers' struggles. As the Red Sox manager routinely pointed out, the third baseman is evolving in the major leagues at the age of just 21 years old.

But now we're in September and the view of Devers existence is a bit different.

That was evident Cora's comments Saturday when asked about how he plans on juggling the playing at third base between Eduardo Nunez and Devers (when he returns from his hamstring injury).

"Eduardo is swinging the bat well. He’s more direct to the ball. He’s putting on good at-bats. The luxury we have is we can play him at second, too. We can DH him when J.D. plays in the outfield. It’s another one of those good problems to have, I guess. We’ll see how it goes. One thing for sure, Raffy needs to play better. We knew that," Cora said. "The whole season offensively he’s been up and down. Defensively he’s made his errors. He needs to be better and that’s the bottom line. We need to win ballgames and whoever is playing best is going to play."

Despite playing in just 100 games in the field, Devers still leads the major leagues in errors (21). He has also been inconsistent with the bat, hitting .242 with a .719 OPS. There have been flashes, as his 16 home runs would suggest. But the lefty hitter's most recent run prior to returning the disabled list was not good, with Devers going 4-for-22 (.182) in his six-game run. Coming into Saturday, he was 2-for-9 during his most recent rehab stint with Triple-A Pawtucket.

Devers did hit a two-run homer in the PawSox' game Saturday night.

Conversely, Nunez has thrived since getting a shot at third base. Coming into Saturday night he was hitting .343 with a .933 OPS in his last nine games. He added his 10th home run of the season with a solo shot in the fifth inning Saturday night.

Asked if we could be looking at a third base platoon for the home stretch, Cora would only say, "Maybe, yeah. Maybe not. We’ll see how it goes."