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The Red Sox’ defense has been a train wreck. Is it simply due to injuries or is it baked into the roster?

Enmanuel Valdez, seen here making an error earlier this season, is one of multiple players who have struggled defensively this year.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Team defense was one of the concerns for this Red Sox club before the start of the season. The starters’ health, of course, was a question mark that hovered over the team entering camp. Lineup construction and the offense was another source of doubt among critics and fans.

The Sox have answered the last of those questions, despite some of their recent struggles offensively. The starters, namely Chris Sale and James Paxton, have remained healthy while displaying promise and production on the hill.

The defense? It’s been a train wreck.

“We’re not a good defensive team,” manager Alex Cora said Wednesday before another error proved costly in a 5-4 loss to the Reds. “The numbers don’t lie.”


The Red Sox have committed 35 errors, tied for the fifth most in the majors. They have committed 21 throwing errors, the second most in the majors. The club entered Wednesday ranked 29th in both defensive runs saved and 29th in defensive runs saved at second.

The numbers and struggles become even more amplified when you consider the pitching staff.

“We have a pitching staff that doesn’t have swing and miss stuff,” Cora said. “We get to two strikes and we induce weak contact, we have to make the play. When we do that, we’re really good. When we’re not making plays, we struggle.”

Cincinnati's Luke Maile reaches first as Justin Turner (2) can’t scoop the throw to first in seventh-inning action Wednesday night at Fenway. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Kiké Hernández leads the league with 11 errors at shortstop, 10 of which have been throwing. Enmanuel Valdez, a bat-first player, has seen his share of struggles at second with Christian Arroyo on the injured list.

Rafael Devers, while improved, committed a throwing error Wednesday and doesn’t have a Gold Glove etched in his future. Masataka Yoshida is a one-dimensional player whose skill set is rooted solely in his bat.

The Sox’ issues in the field have much to do with the absence of Trevor Story, who has missed the first two-plus months as he recovers from elbow surgery. Story is the stabilizing force for this team’s defense and Cora reiterated Wednesday that when the infielder does return, he will be the starting shortstop.


Adalberto Mondesi’s absence (ACL), and to a lesser extent, Yu Chang’s hamate bone injury, have also plagued the Sox. But Story is the biggest piece of the puzzle. His return will allow the Sox to shift pieces around, beginning with Hernández’s move to either second or to center field, where he grades as elite. If the move is to center, that would allow Jarren Duran to shift to left, and Yoshida could see more time as the designated hitter. Justin Turner and Triston Casas could then split action at first based on the matchup.

The Sox have preached defense since Cora’s return for the 2021 season. So far this year, they have performed below the team’s expectations.

“You can only do what you can do,” Cora said. “It’s not like we just let them go out there and make plays or don’t make plays. We have a process. We believe in that process.”

Devers back to No. 2 in lineup

The Sox have flipped Yoshida and Devers in the lineup the last few days with Devers back to his usual spot in the No. 2 hole and Yoshida batting fourth. It’s mainly centered around getting Devers going.

“I don’t think it changes the at-bat, but I know Raffy likes to hit second and just one of those that I’m like, ‘You know what, let’s put him there for a while,’ ” Cora said. “Let’s see if we can get a few pitches early on. He’s been very passive lately early in the count.”


Duvall, Arroyo, Chang on the mend

Adam Duvall (hand fracture) played center field for the WooSox in his rehab game Wednesday and went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts for the second consecutive night. . . . Christian Arroyo resumed his rehab assignment Wednesday and went 1 for 4 . . . Chang hit on the field and took grounders Wednesday during pregame. Cora said he felt pain in his surgically repaired hand on inside pitches. It’s a matter of pain tolerance before Chang, who was removed from a rehab assignment recently, resumes game action . . . Catcher Jorge Alfaro has an opt-out in his contract that will kick in Thursday. Alfaro signed a minor-league deal with the Sox ahead of spring training and is hitting .320/.364/.523 with six homers for the WooSox. While Cora acknowledged his production, he said the team is comfortable with Connor Wong and Reese McGuire behind the dish.

Julian McWilliams can be reached at Follow him @byJulianMack.