Why give your player a tip when you can pay him for the whole meal?
That’s the philosophy of Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who apparently resorted to some old-fashioned wagering to help Rafael Devers kick a bad habit.
During an appearance Monday on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight with Buster Olney” podcast, Cora revealed the proposal he brought to his rookie third baseman late last week.
“Rafi, he’s been chasing a lot of pitches lately in the last month,” Cora told Olney. “This week, I asked him, ‘Rafi, what’s your favorite restaurant?’ And he told me. … And I go, ‘OK, let’s make a deal: You give me X amount of money every time you chase a pitch out of the zone, and then I’ll give you a gift certificate from your favorite restaurant if you walk or hit an opposite-field home run.’ ”
According to Cora, his bet with Devers paid instant dividends.
“Surely enough, that day that we made the deal, he walked for the first time in like three weeks, then he hit an opposite-field home run the next day,” Cora said. “And then he walked the next day, so I found something that motivates him.”
Cora’s story pretty much checks out: Devers went 0-for-3 against the Baltimore Orioles last Thursday but drew his first walk since May 1. He drew another walk Friday, then slammed a solo home run into the Green Monster seats Saturday before earning another walk Sunday in the series finale.
Looks like Devers has a few fancy dinners coming his way. (Four, to be exact, if Cora is a man of his word.)
Speaking of which, Cora does have one concern about the deal he struck with the young 21-year-old.
“Hopefully I keep his weight down because I don’t want to get in trouble,” Cora added.
The Red Sox probably won’t mind Devers putting on a few pounds if it means breaking out of his recent skid; his homer Saturday was just his second hit in his last 21 at-bats.