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How big of a problem do the Red Sox have with Rafael Devers’s defense?

Rafael Devers and the Red Sox had another tough night in the field on Tuesday.Michael Wyke/Associated Press

HOUSTON — Rafael Devers is taking this hard.

The errors have piled up. He has 16 on the year, including Tuesday night’s errant throw in the first inning. The 16 errors are the most by a third baseman in the majors, and tied for most among all position players. He entered Wednesday night’s game against the Astros minus-6 in defensive runs saved, and there’s no way the Red Sox can hide him. Not after making that huge commitment to him in the offseason.

But during this tough defensive season, a part of Devers’s game where he’s struggled throughout his career, manager Alex Cora reassured the 26-year-old.


Cora on Wednesday revealed what he told Devers: “As long as I’m here, I want you to be my third baseman. I don’t want that talk of moving to another position.”

There should be concern over Devers’s defense. He’s regressed since entering the league in 2017 as a below-average defender carrying a lethal bat.

Considering that the Sox are underwhelming defensively even without Devers, and are tied to not only him, but two other below-average defensive players in Masataka Yoshida and Triston Casas, it will make it difficult for this team to get better defensively.

Yet Cora is confident that there will be improvement from Devers on that side of the ball, and it helps that Devers cares. But sometimes, Cora said, Devers may care too much.

“Knowing Raffy, I guarantee you if he goes 0 for 4 with an error, he’d rather go 0 for 4 and play clean baseball,” said Cora. “There are a lot of guys that will take their 3 for 4 and make an error and say, ‘So be it.’ ”

Devers, however, can’t seem to turn the page, which leads to more errors.

So, how do the Red Sox get Devers past this?


“Just keep talking with him,” Cora said.

Jansen exits with injury

Closer Kenley Jansen exited Wednesday night’s game against the Astros in the bottom of the ninth inning because of what the Red Sox called right hamstring tightness.

With the game tied, 4-4, and Jon Singleton at the plate, Jansen delivered back-to-back balls. On the third pitch of the at-bat, Singleton sent a drive that Wilyer Abreu caught near the warning track in left-center.

Jansen, clearly in pain, hobbled around the mound before he exited alongside a trainer. He was replaced by Nick Pivetta.

Cora said afterward that Jansen is still experiencing tightness. They hope he will be ready for Friday’s series opener against the Dodgers at Fenway.

Shouting match

Cora had some of his many words with home plate umpire Pat Hoberg on Tuesday night during the top of the second inning. The subject? Justin Verlander. The Astros starter had Adam Duvall in an 0-and-1 count before he put his PitchCom device to his ear because he claimed he couldn’t hear it.

But Cora wasn’t necessarily buying it, believing that Verlander was using it as a tactic to buy more time with the pitch clock.

“The clock ran out, and we’ve seen this before,” said Cora. “I think we’ve been in that place [acting like] the PitchCom doesn’t work. But when you’re shaking off, shaking off, shaking off. Like, why are you shaking off? Is it the PitchCom? Can you not hear it?”

Alex Cora ended up being ejected in the seventh inning on Tuesday, but took issue with Justin Verlander in the second inning.Michael Wyke/Associated Press

Cora’s point was that if you’re shaking off the catcher, you can hear the PitchCom, which led him to think that it was a bluff by Verlander. Verlander, walking back to the mound, yelled at Cora, “I didn’t shake that at-bat!” The two exchanged words before Verlander told Cora, “[Expletive] off.”


“I told him he shook off a few times. He said he did not. Then I said, ‘Just go pitch.’ And then he blew me off,” explained Cora.

During his postgame news conference, Verlander maintained that the PitchCom wasn’t working.

“I was just standing there and I just didn’t get anything,” he said.

In the end, it was two competitors trying to win. Verlander and Cora, in fact, have a good relationship.

“This is a kid that I have the utmost respect for,” Cora said. “We talk and all that. It’s just the heat of the battle. He’s one of the greatest pitchers in the history of the game. Especially the last 12, 13 years. He did a good job.”

As it pertains to Verlander telling Cora off? Neither saw it as an issue.

“I don’t think he would take offense,” Verlander said. “Hell, he might have been out there trying to rile their guys up, get me flustered, who knows? That was something that, when I was younger, would probably have affected me a lot more than it did now. The old MO against me was to get me to think about anything other than pitching, get me out of my game plan. In part, that was me being like, ‘I’m done with this. You do what you want. You talk to the umpire. I’m going to worry about pitching.’ It wasn’t really directed [at him], even though it was. I’m sure he understands.”


Duran in walking boot

Jarren Duran (left big toe sprain) will meet with doctors when the Red Sox return to Boston. Until then, the Sox have Duran in a walking boot. Duran injured the toe while climbing the wall during the recent series against the Yankees. Duran underwent an MRI here, but the Sox want to gather more information. Taking that into account, Duran will need more than 10 days on the injured list.

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