Rafael Devers Reveals ‘Hardest Thing’ He Endures Before Each Red Sox Game

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March 30, 2020

Rafael Devers officially made the transition from up-and-coming major leaguer to legitimate star in 2019 despite the Boston Red Sox’s underwhelming World Series title defense.

Still, the Red Sox third baseman is just 23 years old with only 335 major league games under his belt ahead of the 2020 campaign. He’s hardly immune to pregame jitters.

?The hardest thing I still go through is every game I still get this anxiousness of the game starting,” Devers told the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato earlier this month before the coronavirus pandemic forced a sports pause. “It?s this happiness of being out there and being on the field and playing and getting over that anxiety. I?m just over-emotional about the opportunity and being out there playing.

“Because it?s not like a nervous thing, it?s more of an excited thing. That first inning is a big rush. But after that first inning settles, I get an at-bat and it?s like, alright, the game kind of settles. It?s just me being overly emotional about how happy I am.”

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Devers debuted with Boston in 2017 after establishing himself as one of Major League Baseball’s top prospects. He battled through some struggles over the next year-plus, particularly on the defensive side, but the 2019 season marked a huge breakout for the Dominican Republic native. He batted .311 with 32 home runs, 115 RBIs and a .916 OPS en route to finishing 12th in American League MVP voting.

One could point to physical changes in Devers’ game as the primary reasons for his dramatic improvement last season. Clearly, there’s a mental component to a player reaching his ceiling on the game’s biggest stage, however, and Devers is continuing to make strides toward calming his pregame nerves.

?It?s something I?ve been working on since I?ve been here,” Devers told Mastrodonato. “I?ve been working with previous people in the organization that led me to some of my breathing techniques that I do now. But it?s all about controlling myself. I know it. It?s still there and I?m still working on it. But I have gotten much better at it.”

Devers hasn’t seemed too fazed by the bright lights of The Show, with the exception of an occasional hiccup here and there. It’s amazing to think he might be just scratching the surface of fulfilling his potential.

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