Rafael Devers has not looked great for weeks now, but Alex Cora won’t divulge if health is playing a factor.
Devers is hitting just .205 (8-for-39) in his last 10 games, striking out 10 times. He has three doubles and five RBIs in that stretch, as well as six walks. Since May 16, he's hit .194, and the Red Sox certainly are looking for more from a player in the first year of a decade-long megadeal.
The third baseman isn’t alone in his struggles, as evidenced by the team meeting held before Monday’s loss to the Rays. In that game, Devers grounded into a double play in the first inning, and his effort getting down to first base was called into question by some, including WEEI’s Andy Gresh.
In his weekly appearance on Gresh & Fauria, Cora responded to that perceived lack of effort.
“It all depends on how you see it, right?" Cora said. "Raffy’s going to play 162 games, and people don’t know what’s going on in the background. You don’t know if he’s a little banged up or if he’s actually 100 percent. So for people to judge it that way, I think it’s not the right thing to do because not everybody knows his story.
"Maybe he’s 100 percent, maybe he’s not. We keep it in the clubhouse with that, we let people judge whatever they want, and we move forward.”
Pressed on whether Devers is banged up, Cora was equally cryptic.
“Maybe, maybe not," he said. "But like I said, people are going to take the team meetings the way they want to, and they’re going to say oh they’re not hustling, they’re not playing good baseball, I don’t know. From my end, I’m good with the effort, the kid is playing every day, so we go from there.”
It is not that uncommon for players, particularly stars on big contracts, to occasionally pick their spots in terms of exerting effort. Whether that’s the case for Devers is unclear, but Aaron Judge, for example, has cut back on diving for balls in the outfield during the regular season. If Devers is trying to preserve himself so he can play the full season, then going down the line easier are sure outs might be a way of doing it.
But because Cora didn’t give a definitive yes or no on Devers’ health, it leaves the door open for speculation.