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Kiké Hernández laments the ending, but overjoyed with his Red Sox decision

Kiké Hernández cooled off at the end of the Houston series like most of his teammates, but still managed a .408/.423/.837 line in 11 playoff games to cap his inaugural Red Sox season.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

HOUSTON — As lopsided as the Red Sox’ 5-0 loss to the Astros felt in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, the team still lamented a few specific pivot points that it believed could have forced a Game 7. In particular, Kiké Hernández felt doubly disappointed about how close he came to altering the dynamics of the game in the first inning.

With two outs and a runner on first, Yordan Alvarez nearly punctured the Minute Maid roof with a deep drive to right-center. Though Hernández was shaded significantly to left-center, the ridiculous hangtime of the blast permitted the center fielder to reach it — only to have it bang off the bottom of his glove.


“I thought about this for nine innings,” Hernández said after the Sox were eliminated. “I still think if I catch that ball, it’s a different ballgame.”

Of course, it remains somewhat remarkable that Hernández was in center in the first place. After all, he signed his two-year, $14 million deal with the Sox with the idea of being chiefly a second baseman. Had he known he’d end up in the outfield, he wouldn’t have correctly guessed where.

“In the back of my mind, I knew that if I was going to ever end up playing the outfield every day, it was probably going to be left field because the metrics grade me as a plus-plus left fielder,” Hernández said. “I knew that I was an above-average center fielder, but I never got to do it for an extended period of time. And I knew left field that the numbers were really, really good.

“To me, left field was really easy because it was like playing shortstop 300 feet away,” he added. “But my pride said [last offseason] that I’m a shortstop and a second baseman. There’s no way that if I end up playing every day at one position that it’s not going to be one of those two. But I’ve learned to love center field. I had a blast this year. Maybe I’ll only bring my outfield glove next year to spring training.”


Hernández is the only player in the last two winters to sign a multi-year deal with the Sox. The long-time Dodgers role player entered last offseason focused on getting a one-year deal for 2021 so he could test free agency again after a full year as an everyday player. After hearing from the Sox and a few other teams, he changed his outlook.

“Number one, [a two-year deal with the Sox] allowed me to play every day in year one, and two, I wanted to win,” said Hernández. “I understood that they might not go for it as far as like, going for it — to their eyes, this may not be the year, but I was like, ‘There’s no way in hell Boston fans are gonna let this team not make the playoffs more than three years in a row. So even if we don’t make it to the playoffs in year one, I know that we’re gonna go out there and try to make it in year two, and I want to be a part of that.’

“I’m glad it all worked out. And yeah, maybe I could have gotten more money next year by signing a one-year deal, but I don’t really care about that as much as I’m thankful that these guys gave me the chance, and I repaid them for it.”


Minor details

Middle infielder Jeter Downs, after a year-long struggle in Triple A Worcester that produced a .190/.272/.334 line in 99 games, is off to an excellent start for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League. He’s hit four homers with more walks (7) than strikeouts (5) through five games, posting a .333/.520/1.000 line through 25 plate appearances … With the ALCS over, catcher Connor Wong — who’d been on the Red Sox playoff roster for the Wild Card Game, and spent the ALDS and ALCS on the taxi squad — is tentatively slated to join Downs in the AFL … Righthander Kutter Crawford will pitch in the Dominican Winter League, where Julio Rangel, a Red Sox minor league pitching coordinator, is a pitching coach. While Crawford (6-6, 4.28 ERA, 12.5 strikeouts per nine in Double-A and Triple-A this year) will start, his workload will be limited … Red Sox quality control coach Ramón Vázquez will once again manager the Caguas Criollos in the Puerto Rican Winter League after he spends two weeks at home in Southern California with his family.

Alex Speier can be reached at alex.speier@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @alexspeier.