TORONTO — The standings are what they are. The chances of the Red Sox making it to the postseason are virtually an afterthought, so they will be prudent with players who need rest, while also using this as a time to get an extended look at some others.
One of the players you can expect to get legitimate playing time is 27-year-old Marco Hernandez. After being plagued by a bad shoulder since 2017 he is finally healthy, so this will allow the Sox to assess what they really have in the backup infielder.
“Alex [Cora] brought that to us about getting him in so we can see him and observe him down the stretch,” assistant general manager Eddie Romero said Thursday afternoon before a 7-4 win over the Blue Jays. “He’s been in there a few times the last couple weeks and he’s played well. Getting him as many at-bats as we can for the rest of the season here [is important].”
Entering Thursday, Hernandez had a .286 batting average with two homers in 104 plate appearances. He had been solid up the middle, too, mainly playing second base. Hernandez came into Thursday in a bit of slump, just 3 for his last 23, but he had left an impression this season.
“This year I tried to get my playing time back,” Hernandez said recently. “As soon as I started playing back in May I started getting more comfortable at the plate.”
Hernandez (1 for 4) doubled in his first at-bat Thursday, driving in two runs in the second inning. The Sox had been shut out, 8-0, the night before.
Hernandez could leave the Sox with a decision at the end of the year. Brock Holt, who is scheduled to become a free agent, essentially has blocked Hernandez from playing since they are both lefthanded batters who can play multiple positions.
But Hernandez could fill that position going forward, plus he is under team control for three more years. If Hernandez makes an even stronger impression over the coming weeks, it might make it easier for the Sox to part ways with Holt, who will certainly have market value.
“He’s a guy that we’re counting on,” Cora said of Hernandez when the team was in Colorado last month. “He can run. He can put pressure on the defense. We do believe in him and we think that he’s a guy that can contribute.”
Honor for Holt
Major League Baseball announced 30 nominees, one from each team, for the Roberto Clemente Award, and the Sox’ nominee is Holt. The award is given to a player who best represents the game through community, character, philanthropy, and positive contributions both on and off the field.
“It’s always cool to be associated with that award,” Holt said. “I’ve been nominated a few times now. I don’t think anybody who gets nominated does the stuff for the recognition. But it’s nice to see that some of the things you’re doing are noticed.”
Holt came up through the Pirates organization, where Clemente made his mark as a Hall of Famer. For Holt, that makes being nominated even more special.
“He was the guy that everyone talked about,” Holt said. “He was a role model. Everyone knows how good of a baseball player he was. But off the field, one of the best people. It’s a very prestigious award.”
Holt is heavily involved in the Jimmy Fund and makes countless visits to children at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He and his family also donated $15,000 to the Jimmy Fund in August during the annual fund-raising drive.
David Price (left wrist) and Heath Hembree (right elbow) are feeling better, and Cora has said the team will map out what they do with pitchers on Saturday. For Price, it will be about getting treatment, and Hembree could throw a simulated game.
“If Saturday fits [for Hembree], based on how he feels, we will do it,” Cora said.
The expectation is for both to pitch again before the season ends.