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Kiké Hernández settles into unexpected everyday role in center field for Red Sox

Kiké Hernández has been a key part of the Red Sox outfield, spending most of his time in center field this season.
Kiké Hernández has been a key part of the Red Sox outfield, spending most of his time in center field this season.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

When Kiké Hernández signed with the Red Sox before spring training, he not only had his eyes set on being an everyday player, but also a starting second baseman.

Hernández was mainly used as a matchup guy off the bench with the Dodgers, bouncing around from position to position. But Alex Cora and the Sox believed there was room for an everyday role for Hernández, who remained one of the most sure-handed infielders in the league.

Now 89 games into the 2021 season, Hernández has, indeed, been an everyday player, starting in 69 of the 73 games in which he’s played. But 58 of them have come in center field, a position where Hernández has thrived this season.


“He’s been great,” Cora said Friday before his team’s series opener with the Phillies. “Obviously there’s an adjustment — especially here at Fenway. We expected him to play center but I do believe him not playing second has more to do with the other guys, actually. You know what Christian [Arroyo] has done, obviously Marwin [Gonzalez] defensively, he can help us. All of a sudden we fell into this rotation and he was playing center and it just felt good for us.”

Cora added the fact that Hernández can thrive at that position, too, is a testament to who he is. Heading into Friday’s game, Hernández led all center fielders in defensive runs saved with nine this year.

“I always envisioned myself playing every day and the position that I think is my best position is second base,” Hernández said. “I was lucky enough to be versatile, where I can play many positions and play one on an everyday role and not affect the team based on my defense.”

Ironically, Hernández still gets most of his work done in the infield when it comes to drills and fundamental work. When hitters begin taking batting practice, that’s when Hernández shifts to the outfield so he could get live reads off the bat. Hernández told Cora that’s how he preferred to work after signing with the Red Sox.


“For me, personally, I benefit the most out of staying sharp in the infield, taking ground balls and all that,” Hernández said. “And then when it comes to getting live reads, that’s when I do my outfield work, because that’s when that’s what I feel like is going to happen in the game and it’s the most realistic work that I can get.”

Hernández unhappy with scheduling

Hernández isn’t happy about the Red Sox schedule coming out of the All-Star break. The All-Star Game will take place Tuesday and players will travel back to Boston the next day. Every team will have a day off Thursday except for the Sox and Yankees, who begin a four-game set at Fenway.

“I’m obviously not an All-Star,” Hernández said. “The Red Sox have and I definitely feel we needed that fourth day. For the guys that made the All-Star team, it sucks. But, hey, MLB likes money. Red Sox-Yankees makes money.”

As part of Major League Baseball’s deal with ESPN, there were single Thursday games coming out of the All-Star break in 2018 and ‘19. There was no All-Star Game last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sale to throw again Saturday

Chris Sale will throw a simulated game of two innings Saturday in Fort Myers. If everything goes well, Sale could begin a rehab stint.


“We’ll wait till Sunday and hopefully we get good news that he feels great,” Cora said. “Then we’ll make a decision about what he’s going to do next week.” . . . Catcher Kevin Plawecki was reinstated from the 10-day injured list. To make room for Plawecki, the Sox optioned catcher Connor Wong to Triple-A Worcester. Also, Danny Santana (left quad strain) was placed on the 10-day IL. The Sox recalled Michael Chavis from Worcester to fill Santana’s spot.

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