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Red Sox Notebook

Strikeout-prone Franchy Cordero’s problems at the plate continue

Cordero (right) has struck out 23 times in 49 plate appearances this season.
Cordero (right) has struck out 23 times in 49 plate appearances this season.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

This was supposed to be the year that Franchy Cordero would prove that he could be a big leaguer. A season in which the results would finally match the raw talent.

So far, he’s fallen flat.

Cordero struck out in all three of his at-bats Saturday. That’s now 23 strikeouts in 49 plate appearances. Before the Sox’ 8-2 loss, manager Alex Cora intimated that he thought Cordero was trying not to strike out at the plate, which is taking away from some of his conviction. After the contest, Cora didn’t change his position.

“He’s working on his craft every day with hitting coaches [Tim Hyers and Peter Fatse],” Cora said. “You know, he’s in a bad stretch right now.”

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If there is one advocate for Cordero it is Cora, who is known for getting the best out of his guys. But Cordero’s bad stretch does make a person wonder how long the Sox can stick with him, particularly if he’s not providing anything on the defensive side.

In fairness to Cordero, this is what the Sox signed up for. Cutting ties with him at this stage of the season would be a bit reactionary — particularly if you consider he’s missed a large part of the previous three seasons.

Cordero has shown flashes of the skill set that has turned him into such a low-risk, high reward player. Yet his confidence has certainly wavered during this rut. Cora’s hasn’t, though, who still believes Cordero can be an impact player.

The production out of the bottom of the lineup has been scarce at times, and while Hunter Renfroe hasn’t done much with the bat either, he’s proven to be the Sox’ best defensive outfielder. So, if Cordero expects to stick around, he’ll have to do it with his bat and Cora believes he can turn that corner.

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“He’s a guy that we trust, and we believe he is going to make contact, and when he makes contact, good things happen,” Cora said. “So, like I said earlier, you know, I believe right now he’s in between, trying to make contact instead of putting a good at bat. If he does that he’s gonna be in a better spot.”

Hirokazu Sawamura hasn't been used in many high-leverage spots by Alex Cora, but is continuing to earn his manager's trust in his first MLB season.
Hirokazu Sawamura hasn't been used in many high-leverage spots by Alex Cora, but is continuing to earn his manager's trust in his first MLB season.Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Sawamura settling in

Hirokazu Sawamura continues to settle himself with the Red Sox. In Friday night’s 6-5 victory over the Mariners, Sawamura pitched 1⅓ innings and allowed just one hit against three strikeouts. Prior to joining the Red Sox, Sawamura’s go-to pitch was his splitter and that proved to be true during this outing with all three of his strikeouts coming on that pitch. Yet Sawamura said he’s still shaping the splitter to meet his standards so he can induce more grounders, giving his team a chance at a double play.

“I think I’m getting the hang of it now,” Sawamura said. “I’ve been able to throw my splitter with confidence. I was able to get a good grip on my splitter and drop it really well and locate it where I wanted. Moving forward there’ll be a situation where I have to get double play. In essence, I have to get a little shallower grip on my splitter so that I can make him hit a grounder. And I think kind of decreased my velo on the splitter just a little bit to get more grounders.”

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Sawamura said he struggled to maintain weight when he first got to the Red Sox from Japan. But he has since gained back that weight thanks to his rice cooker.

“I would say the white rice is the biggest difference [in the United States],” Sawamura said. “I couldn’t get the rice cooker for a long time. So then after I got that, finally I was really glad that I was able to finally eat white rice.”

The result is a stronger Sawamura on the mound.

“I think [Friday] was a big one for us,” Cora said. “That was a high leverage situation from our end. He’s getting better and we need people to get outs.”

Dominant deGrom

There’s a strong chance the Red Sox will face two-time Cy Young award winner Jacob deGrom in their Wednesday night matchup against the New York Mets at Citi Field.

The ace put on a stellar performance Friday evening. In the Mets’ 6-0 win against the Washington Nationals, deGrom tossed a complete game, while striking out a career-high 15 and allowing just two hits. He entered Saturday leading the league in ERA (0.31) and strikeouts (50), among other categories.

“I saw the highlights yesterday,” Cora said. And what they are getting out of that guy right now is amazing. I know we’ve been facing good pitching, but right now he’s above everybody.”

In three career starts vs. the Red Sox, deGrom is 0-1 with a 3.32 ERA. The Sox saw deGrom last year, managing to score two runs (both earned) on three hits in a 6-5 Boston win.

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