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Kiké Hernández welcomes his second chance, hoping to find full-time role with Red Sox

Kike Hernandez is excited to be joining the Red Sox, where he will be reunited with his friend and former Dodger teammate Alex Verdugo.Tom Pennington/Getty

When Kiké Hernández signed his two-year, $14 million deal with the Red Sox, the first person he contacted was Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo. The two share a tight bond from their time with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and with Hernández now a part of the Sox, it brings them together once more.

In some ways, Hernández and Verdugo had similar introductions to the Red Sox. It wasn’t too long ago that Verdugo was pinged with questions regarding whether or not he was an everyday player. His response was to the point and confident.

“For me, I’m an everyday player,” Verdugo said before last season. “That’s just that. It’s that simple. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I’m somebody who just wants to be out there every single day competing. It doesn’t matter if it’s a lefty on the mound or a righty on the mound.”

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The Dodgers were loaded at each position, blocking Hernández and Verdugo from chances at an everyday role. Yet Verdugo proved himself to be just that and more last season with the Red Sox, slashing .308/.367/.408 with an .844 OPS. Manager Alex Cora, who watched from afar while serving his one-year suspension, called Verdugo the team’s best player.

Fast forward to now, and Hernández is met with the same challenge, facing some of the same questions as Verdugo.

Is he an everyday player? Hernández certainly believes so and believes there’s another level he can reach.

“I really do believe that with a little bit more consistency, I can definitely produce more than I have in the past,” Hernández said in his introductory presser Tuesday. “And I don’t know what my numbers could look like, but definitely my production against righties can definitely be closer to what it is against lefties.”

Could Kiké Hernández become an everyday player in Boston?Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Hernández is a .263 hitter against lefties but just .222 against righties. The Dodgers mainly utilized Hernández when lefthanders were on the mound.

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Hernández pointed to his 2018 season, when he compiled the most plate appearances of his career (462), as an example of what he can do when given the opportunity. In that season, he slashed .256/.336/.470 with 21 homers and an .806 OPS.

“That was, I think, I would say, by far my best year of my career,” Hernández said.

Second base was a glaring hole for the Red Sox last season. They tried Jose Peraza but that proved to be short-lived when he was demoted to the team’s alternate site toward the end of the year. Michael Chavis got some time, too, but his lack of plate discipline was still apparent. That means Hernández, who is most comfortable up the middle, will certainly get an opportunity to prove that he’s worthy of the starting nod.

“That’s the goal for me,” Hernández said. “The goal for me is to come in and be the everyday second baseman.”

Hernández did his due diligence before picking Boston. He spoke with former Sox players David Price and Mookie Betts. He has a relationship with Cora dating back to his childhood in Puerto Rico when his father, Enrique Hernández Sr., coached Cora in winter ball for the Criollos de Caguas. So, choosing the Red Sox wasn’t a tough decision.

Kiké Hernández is congratulated by Mookie Betts, Joc Pederson, and Dave Roberts after hitting a two-run homer in a win last July.Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

“[Price and Betts] all preach about Alex. What he brings to the table as a manager and how good of a communicator he is,” Hernández said. “I’m just really, really excited to be able to play for a Puerto Rican manager.”

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Much like Verdugo, Hernández is known for the energy he brings to the field. He’s known as a clubhouse leader despite being limited to a platoon player in the past. Although many media members and critics don’t see the Red Sox as contenders this year, Hernández carries a different perspective.

“I love the fact that people are kind of counting the Red Sox out of there,” Hernández said. “It just keeps us quiet coming in. I think this team has got a lot of potential. I know that this team is going to be going to be out there contending again.”


Julian McWilliams can be reached at julian.mcwilliams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack.