Even though Wednesday represented some optimism for the Red Sox by announcing their 10-year contract extension with third baseman Rafael Devers, the team’s cloudy offseason still hovered over Fenway Park.
Trevor Story could miss the 2023 season after undergoing right elbow surgery on Monday. Despite Story’s inability to put zip on his throws last season, his first with the Sox, the 30-year-old was building up to be the everyday shortstop.
Manager Alex Cora, who visited with Story prior to Christmas, said everything appeared fine when he saw him.
“The progression looked great, his swing looked great, and the throwing looked great,” Cora said Wednesday following Devers’s news conference. “But then that happened and just like every other sport, you’ve got to turn the page. I know it sounds hard. But this is who we are and this is where we’re at, and somebody has to step up.”
Cora said that Kiké Hernández could be an option at shortstop, something chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom suggested a day earlier.
“I think he can play elite defense at short, second, and center field,” Cora said of Hernández. “We’ve been talking about playing short a little bit now. He hasn’t done it in a while consistently, but I think with his jumps and his reactions … But, obviously, there’s always stuff that we’re working on.”
Opportunity for Duran?
If Hernández is an option at shortstop, that could clear a path for Jarren Duran to make the Opening Day roster.
“We haven’t talked about Jarren for a while,” Cora said. “But I think where we are at in this situation it would be good for him to step up and play good baseball and be the player that we envision him being a few years ago.”
Duran was once seen as the Sox’ center fielder of the future. But in 91 major league games in 2021-22, Duran hit just .219/.269/.354 with a .622 OPS.
Duran’s struggles in the outfield were an even larger issue. He had problems with his routes to balls at times and was minus-7 in defensive runs saved.
While Cora would not commit to Duran being the everyday center fielder, and acknowledged that the roster is not yet complete with the front office likely to add players via free agency and trades, the manager believes Duran will have a shot to make an impact.
“I think he has a chance to get a lot of at-bats,” Cora said. “We know the player, we know what he can do, and hopefully he’s another kid that can benefit from from the new rules [of teams not shifting and limited pickoff attempts at first] to his advantage. He’s still dynamic. He’s still learning.”
Cora said there’s a chance Duran will join Alex Verdugo on Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.
Cora: Bogaerts will be missed
Cora was originally scheduled to meet with Xander Bogaerts in Phoenix, where Bogaerts trains in the offseason, after the Winter Meetings. However, that never happened once Bogaerts agreed to a deal with the Padres. “I might have changed his mind,” Cora joked. Cora, who had not spoken publicly regarding the departure of Bogaerts, said he will be missed, calling him the best shortstop to ever put on a Red Sox uniform. “I love him,” Cora said. Cora said Bogaerts had to accept the Padres’ 11-year, $280 million offer even though his goal was to remain with the Red Sox … James Paxton (elbow) and Chris Sale (broken right wrist) are on schedule for spring training and have not suffered any setbacks. Cora said both could be put on pitch limits to start the season … The Red Sox traded reliever Darwinzon Hernandez to the Orioles for cash considerations after he was recently designated for assignment.