It didn’t take long for Ian Kinsler to learn how the 2018 Boston Red Sox operate.
Kinsler, who went 2-for-5 with three RBIs in his team’s 8-2 win over the Atlanta Braves on Monday, now is hitting .308 with one home run and 10 RBIs in 19 games since joining the Red Sox in July. If you watch Kinsler at the plate, it’s evident the four-time All-Star second baseman has adopted the aggressive plate approach preached by Boston manager Alex Cora.
And there’s a reason for that.
“My first night (with the Red Sox) I tried to bunt in my first at-bat,” Kinsler told WEEI’s Rob Bradford on Monday. “(Xander Bogaerts) led off with a double and I think we were down one and I figured the third baseman was back and just looking at the game I felt like it was a good opportunity to lay one down. I bunted it foul and ended up striking out. I came back in the clubhouse and Mookie (Betts) was like, ‘We don’t bunt.’
“Alright, we rake here. Let’s do that.”
Kinsler experienced a similar moment of conflict Saturday against the Chicago White Sox. With the count 3-0, he peered into the Red Sox dugout to see if Cora wanted him to take the next pitch.
The 36-year-old swung and cranked a solo homer. Boston went on to beat Chicago 6-1.
“On 3-0 he looked into the dugout,” Cora told Bradford. “Don’t even look. We don’t believe in taking 3-0.”
To say Kinsler loves his manager’s attitude would be an understatement.
“It’s very loose, free,” Kinsler told Bradford. “Alex wants his player to play free and he doesn’t try and get in the way of the players playing the game. If a guy works to get to a 3-0 count he should have the ability to swing at it. I think that just shows he trusts his player. Swing 3-0. You don’t bunt. We run a lot. Making outs is not a deterrent. It’s not going to stop us from trying to run.
“There is no scared baseball in here. That’s refreshing because in my opinion that’s the way you’re supposed to play the game. When you start looking over the shoulder and you start worrying about what question someone is going to ask you or what someone is going to say or you start worrying about your mistakes this game can become difficult.”
At the end of the day, the aggressive approach Cora has instilled in the Red Sox doesn’t work for every team. There have plenty of successful clubs, including past Boston teams, who have won championships by being patient and minimizing mistakes.
Still, Cora clearly has struck all the right chords with the Red Sox, who own the best record in Major League Baseball at 95-44.
Thumbnail photo via Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports Images