Why Red Sox Manager Alex Cora Is ‘Loving This Version’ Of Kiké Hernández

The Red Sox utilityman has been impactful in the field and lineup

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Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora was upfront with what he hoped to get from utilityman Kiké Hernández before the 2021 season.

Now, Hernández, who has played 79 of Boston’s 95 games this season, has Cora feeling very grateful about how the offseason addition has worked out.

The 29-year-old has played 62 games in center field, 18 at second base and 11 innings at shortstop.

“I knew he was a good player, I knew he was a solid player, but I’m loving this version,” Cora said before Tuesday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays was postponed. “He’s a complete player. He’s a good base runner, good defender and he’s a good hitter.”

Hernández has become even more valuable since his transition to the leadoff spot. He’s compiled a .243 batting average, .324 on-base percentage and .785 OPS in 63 starts at the leadoff spot this season. Twelve of his 13 home runs — two of which came Monday — have come batting first, too.

“Well, I mean, we saw him in spring training. He was hitting with the big boys and he was crushing balls,” Cora said. “… This is the first time he’s playing every day. And I bet a few weeks ago he was feeling it, just his legs, the whole grinding every day, but it feels like now he’s finally settled down. He’s not trying to do too much, he’s taking his walks.

“It seems like whenever they miss in that honey hole down-and-in he’s hitting the ball out of the ballpark, which is great,” Cora continued. “Right now, he’s short to the ball, not hitting too many fly balls, hitting line drives. We can talk about Jarren (Duran) hitting the home run yesterday, but I think Kiké was the one who set the tempo right away, taking advantage of second base.”

Hernández will look to keep his strong campaign going when as the Red Sox continue their series against the Blue Jays on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s game between the Red Sox and Blue Jays has been rescheduled for Aug. 7.

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