Alex Cora had no choice but to speak in blunt absolutes Wednesday after (and coincidentally before) another rough defensive performance from the Red Sox.

“We’re not a good defensive team right now,” the Boston manager said in his pregame press conference. ” … The numbers don’t lie.”

Only six teams have committed more errors than the Red Sox, who booted two more balls Tuesday before another Wednesday in a pair of one-run losses to the Cincinnati Reds. Cora’s club ranks 23rd in outs above average and 29th in defensive runs saved.

A big reason for that has been the defensive play of Kiké Hernández. An elite center fielder, Hernández was tabbed to move back to the infield to play shortstop for the injured Trevor Story, and it hasn’t gone well. Hernandez now leads the majors in errors among shortstops and hasn’t looked overly comfortable at any point this season.

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The Red Sox have already said Story will play shortstop when he returns from an arm injury. Boston knew it would be without Story to begin the season, of course, and the club made a move it hoped would give them some help with Story down. The Sox traded for Adalberto Mondesi in January from the Kansas City Royals, but the infielder has yet to play a game for the Red Sox. That’s because Mondesi is still rehabbing an ACL injury he suffered 13 months ago.

That’s a lengthy rehab process, even for a serious injury like that, and it doesn’t sound like Mondesi will be patrolling the Fenway infield anytime soon. Mondesi remains at the club’s spring training facility in Florida, where he continues to struggle with getting back to full health.

“(He’s) just down there, taking grounders, still grinding through it,” Cora told reporters Wednesday, per “He’s having good days and bad days. I don’t want to think for him, but it’s probably ‘I don’t feel comfortable doing this,’ and then you have to slow down.”

Cora acknowledged the scans of Mondesi’s knee looked good, but the ultimate issue is how he can handle the pain.

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“We were feeling pretty confident when he left spring training that it was going to be a solid process throughout and at one point, he was going to be able to just go,” Cora said. “And right now, we’re not in that pattern right now.”

Between 2019 and 2022, Mondesi ranked 10th among 45 shortstops with at least 1,000 innings in outs above average. In that same group, Mondesi’s UZR ranked sixth, and his scaled UZR ranked third behind only Miguel Rojas and Andrelton Simmons. Mondesi has just 11 errors in 185 games at shortstop dating back to 2019, obviously equaling the number of miscues from Hernández in just 41 games at the position this season.

At this point, it’s worth wondering whether Story could even return before Mondesi.

What’s become increasingly clear, though, is the Red Sox need to improve their defense, especially on the infield, and they have to do it soon. It seems unlikely Mondesi will be part of any sort of short-term fix, though.

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Featured image via Peter Aiken/USA TODAY Sports Images