Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers doesn't always have the easiest time preparing for games.
After a breakout season in 2019 (.311, 32 homers, 115 RBI, .916 OPS), the 23-year-old has turned into one of Boston's best at the plate, but that doesn't mean he doesn't experience anxiety.
The Boston Herald's Jason Mastrodonato sat down with Devers for an interview before the MLB postponed its season due to the coronavirus, and Devers indicated that he still feels a rush before games begin.
“The hardest thing I still go through is every game I still get this anxiousness of the game starting," Devers said, according to Mastrodonato. "It’s this happiness of being out there and being on the field and playing and getting over that anxiety. I’m just over-emotional about the opportunity and being out there playing.
“Because it’s not like a nervous thing, it’s more of an excited thing. That first inning is a big rush. But after that first inning settles, I get an at-bat and it’s like, alright, the game kind of settles. It’s just me being overly emotional about how happy I am.”
“It’s something I’ve been working on since I’ve been here. I’ve been working with previous people in the organization that led me to some of my breathing techniques that I do now. But it’s all about controlling myself. I know it. It’s still there and I’m still working on it. But I have gotten much better at it.”
Of course, you can tell that Devers can't wait to take the field -- he lights up like a kid on Christmas -- but you'd never know truly how emotional he gets.
In three seasons with the Red Sox, Devers has hit .282 with 211 RBI, 63 home runs and a 5.8 WAR. Based on his 2019 stats, those pregame jitters must've been a little easier to deal with last season.
Whatever's in store for the Red Sox in 2020, and whenever the baseball season begins, we should expect some big things from Devers in his fourth season.