OAKLAND, Calif. — Rafael Devers was somewhere over the United States on the team plane Thursday night when word came he had been selected to the All-Star team for the first time.
Manager Alex Cora made an announcement to the entire group that Devers and Xander Bogaerts had been voted in as starters.
“It felt great. It’s something every player wants,” Devers said Friday.
Devers and Bogaerts would be the first Sox teammates to start at third base and shortstop in the game.
“Everyone knows how close I am with Xander,” Devers said. “He’s one of my closest friends. He helps me out a ton. I’m super excited I can share this with him.”
Said Bogaerts: “We have something special going on right now.”
Devers is the first Sox third baseman to be elected as a starter since Shea Hillenbrand in 2002.
Devers went into Friday’s game against the Athletics hitting .288 with a .941 OPS. His 69 RBIs were the most in the majors, with his 45 extra-base hits second.
Devers joined Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr., both 22, as first-time All-Stars from the Dominican Republic. Ronald Acuña Jr., 23, made it for a second time.
They are baseball’s future.
“It’s really exciting,” Devers said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun to be on the same field as them.”
This has become a regular thing for Bogaerts, now a three-time All-Star. He would be the first Red Sox shortstop to start twice in the Midsummer Classic since Rico Petrocelli in 1967 and ’69.
“I just put in the work every year, just trying to stay healthy,” Bogaerts said. “I think that’s the only way you can produce and perform and play at the level that you would want to personally.”
Some evaluators saw Bogaerts as a third baseman when he was coming up because of his size. He rebelled against that label and over time proved his point.
“I’m happy with the player I am today,” Bogaerts said. “I’ve been on a couple of playoff runs. I have two rings with the team. I guess I’m a winning player if you want to put it like that.”
The pitchers and reserves will be announced on Sunday.
Try, try again
Garrett Richards takes the mound for the Sox on Saturday having allowed 17 earned runs on 32 hits over 16⅔ innings in his last four starts. The downturn has coincided with Major League Baseball saying it would enforce the rule against pitchers using substances on the ball beyond rosin.
Richards hasn’t had a quality start since June 1. His earned run average has swelled from 3.75 to 4.96 in the five starts since.
Richards managed 3⅔ scoreless innings against the Kansas City Royals to finish his last start, and the Sox hope he can build on that.
“We keep showing him his numbers and the stuff, which is very important,” Cora said. “We’re comparing it to some of the best pitchers in the league and the numbers are there.”
Richards is now using a changeup to enhance his diminished repertoire. He needed something to get hitters off his fastball.
“We’re looking forward for him to go out there and compete,” Cora said. “This is not about spin rates. There are certain days you have nothing and you have to give us five innings. Somehow, someway, you have to find a way. I believe the last one, towards the end, he did that.”
Arroyo getting closer
Christian Arroyo was in the lineup for Triple A Worcester to continue his rehabilitation assignment before the game was rained out. He will likely remain there Saturday. Cora said the plan for the infielder was to “most likely” rejoin the major league team Monday in Anaheim. Arroyo has been on the injured list since June 21 with a bone bruise just below his right kneecap.
Backup catcher Kevin Plawecki was on the field at Oakland Coliseum before the game Friday running the bases to test his strained left hamstring.
Plawecki still has some soreness, but has been catching in the bullpen and handled Chris Sale’s bullpen session Wednesday.
“He’s not quite there yet,” Cora said.
It’s unlikely Plawecki will require a rehab assignment before being activated.
The Red Sox will face Shohei Ohtani on either Tuesday or Wednesday in Anaheim next week. He has pitched against the Sox once, allowing three runs over two innings at Angel Stadium on April 17, 2018. Ohtani took the loss in a game the Sox won, 10-1… Adam and Brette Ottavino are organizing the team’s fourth annual “Christmas in July” fundraiser for Boston Children’s Hospital. It runs from July 5-11. The first 10 people to make a $500 donation at bostonchildrens.org/christmasinjuly will receive an autographed ball from a prominent Sox player.