Alex Cora: Kiké Hernández is trying to be too perfect at shortstop


Kiké Hernández is an elite defensive player at multiple positions, but that hasn’t exactly been on display early this season.

With Xander Bogaerts departing in free agency and Trevor Story injured, the Red Sox have leaned on the super-utilityman to be their everyday shortstop. He’s played there before in his career, but not this often, and he’s spent the bulk of his time in Boston at second base or in center field.

A learning curve was expected, but thus far Hernández is MLB’s sole leader in errors with five, and has yet to look truly comfortable at the position.

Sox manager Alex Cora has some ideas on what could be causing the issues.

“I do believe, honestly, that he's been trying to be too perfect at shortstop," Cora said Wednesday in his weekly appearance on Gresh and Fauria. "(He's trying to be) very fundamentally sound, catch the ball, place your feet and make the throw instead of being an athlete. Kiké is one of the elite athletes that we have, one of the best athletes in the game. That’s why he’s able to play second, short, center field at a high level. Kiké is an elite defender at every position, but I think he got caught up on trying to be too perfect. …

“Just play free, that’s the most important thing. Be athletic. Because when you become robotic, your moves are going to be slower and you’re going to start not playing the way you’re supposed to.

“(Field coordinator) Andy Fox had a conversation with him three days ago, and that’s what we’re trying to push, just be athletic. The same way you play center field, the same way you played second a few years ago, do it at shortstop. It’s not an easy position, but it’s a position we know he can play. It’s just a matter of going out there and being athletic.”

There are some struggles at the dish, as well. Hernández’ bat has yet to get going, as he sits at 3-for-36 so far with just a .483 OPS.

It probably shouldn’t be the biggest surprise that he’s taking time to get adjusted. Not only did he switch to becoming a full-time shortstop, a massive undertaking on its own, but he’s also coming off an injury-marred 2022 campaign. That said, the glimmer of hope is that the ceiling for his defensive and offensive talent is much higher than what he’s offered this season.

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