Danny Santana was honest with Alex Cora before he stepped into the batter’s box for his first at-bat with the Red Sox.
Santana was a bit anxious heading into his Boston debut, but his manager quickly put him at ease.
“He said he was a little bit nervous before his first at-bat,” Cora told reporters over Zoom after the Red Sox’s 11-3 win over the Phillies. “I said, ‘Well, you’re only human. That’s part of what we do and if you don’t feel nervous at this level, there’s something wrong with you. We all feel that way on a daily basis.'”
Santana’s nerves evidently were short-lived. The 30-year-old delivered in the fifth inning at Citizens Bank Park, walloping a go-ahead, two-out solo home run.
Cora after the game didn’t seem too surprised by Santana’s clutch blast.
“Put a good swing on it — breaking ball — to stay in the zone,” Cora said. “That’s what he brings. He can hit the ball out of the ballpark. We’re very excited that he’s with us and I know he’s going to help us.”
It remains to be seen how Cora will handle Santana moving forward. But if the Red Sox newcomer continues to make the most of his opportunities, Boston’s skipper will have no choice but to find a spot in the lineup for him on a regular basis.
Here are more notes from Friday’s Red Sox-Phillies game:
— The Red Sox received an injury scare in the seventh when Alex Verdugo was removed from the game due to hamstring tightness. Cora’s comments after the game suggests the move was precautionary, but Boston nonetheless will play it safe with the dynamic outfielder.
“He’s doing OK,” Cora said. “Had to take him out at the end. It was more, like — he felt like it was nothing. He just got scared. We’ll check him out tomorrow and see how he feels. I’m sure we’re not going to play him tomorrow. We’ll stay away from him most likely and give him some rest and we’ll check on Sunday again.”
— Martín Pérez logged six solid innings to earn his second win of the season, but his most noteworthy highlight came at the dish. The southpaw struck out in pretty hilarious fashion in the first inning, and his ugly swing got a rise out of his teammates.
“It was fun and after that at-bat I just stayed in the game,” Pérez said, as seen on NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage. “Just trying to stay focused because I don’t want distractions. I just come here to pitch. Like I said, it’s hard when you pitch in the American League and just come to the National League to hit. My job is just to go out there and give a chance for my team to win.”
— Santana became the first Red Sox player in 76 years to hit leadoff and also hit a home run in his Boston debut.
— The Red Sox struck out 17 times Friday night, but Cora wasn’t at all concerned about that mark.
“I didn’t notice the strikeouts because we just kept putting good at-bats after good at-bats,” Boston’s manager said. “We’ve been striking out a lot, but at the same time we’re scoring a lot of runs lately. Quality of the at-bats — they’re different. I mean, when we played in Seattle, the White Sox, there was a stretch there that we were striking out a lot and the quality of the at-bats weren’t good. Now, it’s a lot different. We can live with the strikeouts as long we’re battling, get your nose in there, put the ball in play with men in scoring position and drive the ball the other way.”