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Sox give red-hot Rafael Devers well-deserved break

Rafael Devers homered in three of the four games against the Blue Jays this week.Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images/Getty Images

HOUSTON — Rafael Devers had an extra base hit in all four games in Toronto, and was rewarded — or not — with the night off Friday.

“I got benched!” Devers joked from the dugout a couple hours before the opener of the Red Sox’ three-game series against the Houston Astros.

Devers has been white hot but, to hear manager Alex Cora tell it Friday, that’s one of the reasons he needed a rest.

“He has played every game and he’s getting on base at a high rate,” Cora said before Friday night’s 4-3 loss. “He’s been running the bases, he played all games in Toronto and you guys know how I feel about the turf.”


Devers need not worry that Cora hasn’t noticed how well he’s been playing. Devers has hit .358 (38 for 106) in his last 25 games and leads the majors in hits during that span. He hit three homers against the Blue Jays.

“He’s been amazing,” Cora said. “I start looking at stats and where he’s at in the league and all that and it’s fun. We’re very proud of him because he worked his butt off in the offseason to get to this weight and work on his defense and all that and everything is paying off.”

Devers, who had some defensive problems earlier this season, has been playing well at third base lately. Cora said that his footwork has improved and that he’s noticed the 22-year-old working hard to be more consistent defensively.

Cora sees Devers as a long-term third baseman, and said multiple times that he’s “proud” of Devers’s progress.

“Since Day 1 I knew that,” Cora said. “His footwork, his arm, it’s just a matter of keep getting repetitions. I go back to what I said last year with Adrian [Beltre]. Adrian made 30 his first full season, 30 errors. And he’s considered probably one of the best defensive third basemen in the history of the game. Just got to be patient, he’s 22 years old.”


Pedroia suffers setback

Dustin Pedroia left his rehab start with Double A Portland after only four innings Friday, the latest setback in his rehab process.

“He didn’t feel right,” Cora said. “No slides, it was just he didn’t feel right after the second one so he decided that was enough today. We’ll see how it goes and we’ll know more [Saturday].”

Pedroia started at second base. Before the game, Cora was positive, saying Pedroia was making positive improvements in his swing and was playing second base consistently.

Brock Holt also started at Double A Portland and Cora said “there’s a chance” he could join the MLB club in Houston before the three-game series wraps up Sunday.

Holt played six innings and was 0 for 2 with a walk Friday.

Nathan Eovaldi, recovering from loose body surgery in his shoulder, is throwing a bullpen session on Saturday. If all goes well, the next step for Eovaldi would likely be for him to pitch to hitters in a simulated game, Cora said.

Taking the long route

The Red Sox travels to Houston took a circuitous route when their plane was diverted Thursday afternoon. The charter flight, which was bound for Houston’s Hobby Airport from Toronto’s Pearson Airport, was forced to land in Detroit because of a mechanical issue. The team switched planes and continued on to Houston, arriving between midnight and 1 a.m.


“We made it,” Cora said. “I will never complain if a flight has to go somewhere else because of mechanical issues, I will never complain about that. We’re here.”

Cora joked that the diversion made him miss his dinner plans with his Astros friends. Cora said that he didn’t even ask what the specific problem was. The plane landed normally and general consensus from players was that it wasn’t a big deal. Those onboard first figured something was up when the plane started circling not long after they’d left Toronto, and soon after the pilot announced they’d been diverting to Detroit as a precaution.

Cora said his reaction was, “OK, cool,” though not everyone was quite as calm.

“I was scared,” said Devers. “I don’t like to fly. I didn’t know what was going on.”

Weber may stick

Ryan Weber pitched well enough in his start Thursday that Cora could keep him in the rotation, which would allow him to use Hector Velazquez consistently as a relief pitcher. “We’ll see how it goes in the next few days but there’s a pretty good chance,” that will be the plan, Cora said . . . Patriots first-round draft pick N’Keal Harry will throw out the first pitch at McCoy Stadium on May 31 when the Pawtucket Red Sox host the Syracuse Mets at 6:10 p.m. Harry will also take photos with fans at the game.

Nora Princiotti can be reached at nora.princiotti@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @NoraPrinciotti.