How Kiké Hernández Proved Two Of Alex Cora’s Preseason Expectations Wrong

Cora thought during spring training Hernández would be playing second or left field

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Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora admits to being wrong with a pair of his spring training expectations, and Kiké Hernández is the biggest reason behind it.

“Well, he was our second baseman, right? Coming in, I still say two things I was wrong in (during) spring training,” Cora explained ahead of the Red Sox hosting the Houston Astros for Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Monday, as shared by the team. “Somebody asked me about who was better in center field, and I actually put him (Hernández) in left field for some reason. Like ‘No, if we go that way it’s going to be Alex (Verdugo) in center and Kiké (Hernández) in left, something like that.’

“And then I always said if we had the lead he was going to play second base most of the time,” Cora continued.

Obviously, it hasn’t exactly played out that way. Hernández has turned into a star centerfielder — both offensively and defensively — and when Verdugo was forced into the spot with Hernández sidelined due to COVID-19, well, it wasn’t as beneficial. Hernández has played 88 games (362 plate appearances) in center while playing 45 games (201 plate appearances) at second. He’s been Boston’s mainstay in center throughout much of its run to the postseason, though.

Cora noted how the reasoning behind it is multi-fold, but the obvious one is the production and big-play ability of Hernández.

“But a lot of things happen. One of them was Christian Arroyo, right? He played great at second base and we felt very comfortable with him,” Cora said. “And then the way he (Hernández) played centerfield. It is eye-opening. That first step is amazing, the instincts, the arm, the decisions, the communication. We can keep going on and on, and we don’t have time for this, but he’s great.

“We had one of the best defensively in ’18 and ’19, and he’s still great, Jackie (Bradley Jr.), right?,” Cora continued. “But this kid is up there with them — with the best of the best defensively. And we’re very proud of him.”

Cora previously shared how one of his preseason goals was to show people that Hernández was an everyday player, and a good one at that.

But perhaps even Cora didn’t realize just how good of an addition Hernández would turn out to be.

Boston Red Sox second baseman Christian Arroyo
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