Boston’s Rafael Devers has arrived at camp in good shape, according to Manager Alex Cora. “He put the work in the offseason. … That’s a good start,” Cora said. Winslow Townson/Associated Press

When Rafael Devers returned to Boston for summer camp as the Red Sox prepared for their pandemic-shortened season last July, the third baseman didn’t arrive in the best shape.

Devers said Wednesday that after camp paused last spring due to the pandemic, he went back home to the Dominican Republic, where he continued working out but didn’t have the same structure he had when he was with the team. Though he doesn’t want to use it as an excuse, it led to what’s become a recurring theme in the 24-year-old’s young career, as he got off to a slow start when the regular season came.

This year, though, it seems Devers is taking his preparation more seriously.

Alex Cora said Devers has put in extra work this offseason, starting with spending three weeks in Boston and a month in Tampa this winter. He showed up to spring training early this year, and the manager is impressed with the shape he’s in. They’re hoping that will translate into a stronger start this season.

“He will be OK,” Cora said. “He’s a guy who obviously throughout his career, he’s a slow starter. I don’t know. He’s in better shape this year than last year when he went to summer camp. I think he understands his swing a little better. Hopefully he gets off to a good start, but I think at the end the numbers will be there. He’s that type of hitter. There are those guys that start fast and they finish slow. With Raffy it’s the other way around. We’ll see if he can put a whole season together. It will be fun. …

“He’ll be as good as he wants to. And he’s put in the work. He put the work in the offseason. … That’s a good start.”


In 2019, which became his first full season, Devers batted .294 with eight RBI in his first 30 games and didn’t hit a home run until May 3. But he started heating up and ultimately finished the year batting .311 with 54 doubles, 32 homers and 115 RBI, numbers that introduced him as a budding superstar.

In 2020, though, his start was much of the same. In his first 21 games, Devers batted .183 with two homers and five RBI. He rebounded over his next 27 games by hitting .376 with nine doubles, nine homers and 31 RBI.

This year, he doesn’t want to wait before getting hot.

“There are 162 games in the season,” Devers said. “It’s natural that there are going to be ups and downs throughout, but from the first game, the first pitch, I’m always trying to make adjustments to my game. Whether I have a bad game in my first game, I’m still trying to get better the next day. It’s just building off of that, trying to get more consistent, continuing my routine. I’ve always had it a certain way. There are always going to be ups and downs in the game, but I do want to get off to a better start.”

Boston’s Rafael Devers has led all third basemen in errors in three consecutive seasons, with 24 in 2018, 22 in 2019 and 14 last year. Mary Schwalm/Associated Press

Defensively, Devers still could use substantial improvement after leading all third basemen in errors in three consecutive seasons – with 24 in 2018, 22 in 2019 and 14 last year. He said he didn’t work on anything specifically this offseason, but his defense is certainly a focal point.

The return of Cora could help. Devers is excited to reunite with his manager, who he’s called something of a father figure in the past. The two have a unique relationship and Devers should only continue to blossom under Cora’s watch.


“He’s someone that I can talk to about anything,” Devers said. “He’s someone that just knows how to communicate with me, no matter what it is that I’m talking to him about. He understands me, and that’s something that is extremely helpful for my growth. There’s a lot of guys that, they might believe in you, but he’s on me from day one all the time about doing this, doing that, so having a manager like that, that pushes you because they care about you so much, it’s something that is greatly appreciated.”

Devers faces a pivotal season in 2021 to continue to show why the Red Sox should invest in a long future with him. Chaim Bloom indicated earlier this week that contract extension talks could pick up with some players this spring, and Devers is certainly a candidate for that.

Devers said Wednesday that he’s just focusing on the season and would let his representatives take care of it when the time comes. But he believes he has the talent to be mentioned among the game’s best players, some of whom have been paid handsomely. And he seems motivated to prove it.

“I know the type of talent that I have,” Devers said. “Obviously, if people don’t want to consider me in that group, that’s for them to discuss, but me, I know what I can do in this game and I know what I’ve done, and I can only focus on that because obviously I know that the defense is a thing but at the same time, I’m always out there working and improving my game. I know where I belong and I know what I feel about myself and I feel like that’s the most important part.”

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